Just Juices are Liverpool Echo's Small Business of the Week!

September 04

Merseyside couple who have turned their passion for healthy living into a thriving business

What started as a kitchen table enterprise for Louise Disley and Tom Muir is now on the way to becoming a national brand.

The Merseyside couple set up Just Juices in 2013, a range of healthy natural juice drinks with a low sugar content, working from their kitchen at home.

Now the business is shifting 2,500 bottles a week to customers via its website and a number of independent retail outlets in Liverpool and London.

And the couple are now on the verge of making what could be a huge step. They are in the final stages of negotiations with a major national online retailer.

Once that deal is signed and sealed, it raises the tantalising possibility of the range becoming a well-known household brand.

It is a remarkable achievement for Louise and Tom, even more so when you consider they have a one-year-old daughter – Ellie – at home and Tom is continuing to work full-time at the Jaguar Land Rover factory in Halewood.

Tom Said: “When we started Just Juices in 2013, neither of us had any experience of creating or even running our own business, but after recognising a gap in the market for 100% healthy juices we decided to take a risk and go for it.

“It seems to have paid off, as we’ve moved our business forward considerably over the past two years. At first it was hard as we both have full time jobs and we recently became parents for the first time, but we never lost faith in our idea.

“We knew we had lots of potential with Just Juices, but we didn’t know how to take this forward and grow the business,”

Just Juices has now moved out of the couple’s kitchen and is produced from an industrial unit in Fazakerley. The firm employs three people, as well as Louise and Tom, with an intention to take on more staff in the coming months.

The idea for Just Juices grew out of Louise’s love for home juicing and the encouragement of family and friends who convinced her to share her great tasting recipes with the public.

She explained: “I am a nutritionist and myself and Tom have always followed a clean, healthy lifestyle. We have always made our own juices and so when we started making them for other people it grew organically from there.

“We have always been frustrated that when we are out and about we can’t just pick up a healthy drink. It is either full of sugar or pasturised and to us that is not what we want. That was one of the driving forces to bring out our own range that is natural, healthy and low in sugar.”

The impending larger distribution deals mean the couple have had to work hard on the finer details of upscaling their logistics transportation operation.

Tom added: “We have been working really hard on the plans to upscale the production - a lot of background work has had to go into that. Being a chilled product means it is important it stays at the right temperature.”

The range of healthy drinks sold by Liverpool-based Just Juices
At the beginning of last year, Louise and Tom entered the first Spark Up business accelerator programme run out of the city centre offices of Liverpool & Sefton Chambers of Commerce.

“When we joined we had been trading for six months, but didn’t really have a full grasp of our market and consumer audience,” said Tom

“Through the support and advice of Spark Up, we realised we needed to refocus our products and brand in order to identify and connect with our customers more clearly as well as compete against our competitors.

“As a result visits to our website are increasing and we are securing more and more sales as well as interest from investors and suppliers. We are now on the path to becoming recognised as a major player in the food and drink industry.”

Louise added: “The mentoring we have had from Spark Up has been invaluable. The network of knowledge that we got from that has been amazing.”

She also had lots of praise for her family for both their encouragement and their willingness to offer practical help, particularly with looking after Ellie.

“We have had to wear a lot of hats but we have had an amazing support network within our family and that has allowed us to grow and run the business,” said Louise.

“We are now looking to grow our staff numbers. We are in the final stages of talks with one of the largest online grocery retailers which will mean we have to upscale production.

“So it is quite an exciting time for us where we can take our business forward and get a good team around us.

“There is a huge amount of regulation, not just because it is being consumed by the public, but also because of the health benefits. The products have to be scientifically tested by external laboratories.

“We now have a SALSA (Safe and Local Supplier) accreditation which means we can supply supermarkets – it is like a tick in the box which says the standards are what they should be.

“People just see a drink on the shelf but they have no idea of the amount of work that goes into it.”




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