I'LL BE MUM: Founder of specialist tea company Mama Tea, Anna Louise Simpson, said the firm has spent the past year getting ready for a period of expansion. Picture: Lloyd Smith
Mama Tea, which produces caffeine-free herbal drinks for pregnant women and new mothers, is in advanced talks with Destination Maternity about being stocked in 700 stores across the US.
Founder Anna Louise Simpson said: "Destination Maternity is the world's largest maternity retailer.
"It started out as 15 stores but I went out to meet the buyer and they said if I went exclusively with them in the first year they would launch in 700 stores.
"So we are going to launch with a series of tea parties in their flagship stores.
"It is a great opportunity to get into the US market as Destination Maternity has 80% of pregnant women shopping in the stores or online with them.
"It will be a lot of tea. It will probably be around £24,000 a month in turnover so it is a substantial contract."
Last year, the brand was delisted from supermarket giant Tesco which sparked a change in strategy from Ms Simpson.
The Mama Tea website is being relaunched and teas will soon be shipped around the world from the Edinburgh headquarters.
Part of the growth plan involves taking on an additional three staff, including an apprentice.
Ms Simpson said: "I looked at why we got delisted from Tesco and what we could learn from it.
"UK retailers charge really big listing fees and there is no guarantee of going in to them UK-wide.
"So for a small company like mine the amount of tea I would have to sell to meet the listing fee doesn't justify the effort.
"We have spent the past year restructuring and getting Mama Tea ready for a rapid period of growth.
"We believe we can get better growth and margins by focusing on exports and ecommerce.
"Our ecommerce model generates cash, has really good margins and we can deliver really good customer service.
"We have so much international online traffic that we are currently not monetising, so we are keen to see how expanding to international ecommerce affects the business."
Ms Simpson, a former corporate lawyer who founded Mama Tea in April 2009 following the birth of her second child, also praised Royal Bank of Scotland for their support since she moved from Clydesdale.
She added: "The loan and invoice financing from RBS allows us to match our supply chain scalability with financial scalability. But they have also been great for making invaluable introductions, which are essential to a small business with big growth potential."
Gordon Merrylees, who is head of RBS business banking in Scotland, said: "Anna Louise is an innovative and exciting entrepreneur and we're delighted she has chosen to bank with us.
"Mama Tea has great potential to move into new markets and grow, and we look forward to supporting Anna Louise and her team as they make that journey."
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