VOYAGER is well on the way to achieving its target of listing on the Aquis Exchange as the fledgling CBD company moves forward with ambitious growth plans – just six months after launching.
CEO Nick Tulloch says Voyager has been approved in principle by Aquis, as the Scottish-based health and wellness enterprise looks to build a strictly regulatory compliant platform and cement its status and validity with investors.
Speaking to BusinessCann he said: “We made no secret of our plans to take Voyager public when the time was right and so we are delighted that the company is ready far sooner than we expected.
“Being listed on Aquis will give us better access to capital should we require it for future growth. The business is already well-funded for its current plans, but we expect the cannabis/CBD sector to change in the coming years so positioning Voyager to benefit from that, and take advantage of opportunities as they arise, is important.
“We also believe that the status we will get – in the eyes of partners and customers – for being a publicly traded company will be valuable in building our business.”
Private Investors In The Round
Voyager, which was established last November to supply cannabidiol and hemp products, announced earlier this week that it was seeking admission to Aquis and that it had raised £741,000 through a private fundraise, including a £100,000 commitment from professional cannabis investor, Greencare Capital.
The financial support takes the total capital secured by Voyager since it was incorporated to more than £2m – including an oversubscribed Seedrs crowdfunding campaign launched in February this year which raised £874,000, nearly five times more than the initial £175,000 target.
Mr Tulloch described Greencare’s investment as ‘a powerful validation of Voyager’s strategy’. He said: “Their business is to understand and invest in cannabis companies and the fact they consider us to be a suitable partner will itself hopefully give added confidence to existing – and future – investors.
“We had a total of 22 investors in this round. Of those, three missed out on our Seedrs crowdfunding as we closed it early, but nevertheless stayed in touch.
“Leaving aside Greencare, the other 18 are predominantly private investors who are supportive of our IPO (Initial Public Offering) plans and have undertaken to assist in further building our profile and, potentially, supporting us again at the time of our IPO.
“This was key to us. We have never made any secret of the fact that we hope to get more from our shareholders than simply money. Our policy is for regular communication with our shareholders and to really make them part of the Voyager story.”
Former Zoetic Team
Mr Tulloch is the former chief executive of Zoetic International, the first CBD company listed on the London Stock Exchange. He left in April last year after the Covid pandemic accelerated the need for the largely US-based firm to be run in the States.
With the CBD sector expected to grow significantly in the short term – the UK is the world’s second largest market after the US – Mr Tulloch began working on Voyager in August and launched it in November. He has been joined at the company by two other former senior members of the Zoetic team: chairman Paul Mendell and Eric Boyle, one of the founders.
Voyager – which is headquartered in Perth – now has a growing range of CBD and hemp seed oil products, including oils, gummies, and a bath and skincare range, which are available online through its own website and over 20 other third party sellers.
The firm, whose management team to date are making progress on the UK Novel Foods pathway (see below), is moving forward with its growth plans. It is set to take its staff headcount to five and further enhance its product range, breadth of distribution, and digital marketing.
Seven new products will within the next few weeks join Voyager’s current stable with further roll-outs planned in the run-up to summer.
These include adding body scrubs and bath salts to the existing soap range, a cooling cream aimed at sports enthusiasts, and extending the hemp seed-based pet offering with a special paw balm.
And with non-essential shops once again open following the ending of the UK’s latest coronavirus restrictions, Voyager is also seeking to build its presence on the high street as it looks to become the nation’s number one trusted CBD brand with the sector predicted to be worth £1bn a year by 2025.
Mr Tulloch said now was the right time to invest. “In Voyager’s first four or five months of existence many stores were closed or footfall was relatively light, and understandably retailers were not really in expansion mode, but as covid restrictions relax, shops reopen and people return to the high street, we feel this is the right time to invest in a proper sales function and increased product range, and to start to seek to put our products into mainstream stores.
“We are quite realistic. There is no prediction here that we will be in Boots next week. This is a project that will take many months, but this feels like the right time to start it.
“The market for CBD products is growing rapidly, and it is our aim to build a platform for the future and position ourselves as the trusted brand in what is an increasingly popular health and wellness market.”
Voyager imports its hemp from the US and also some products which are labelled in Perth. But its soaps are manufactured locally using imported CBD, and the aim is to increase manufacturing within the UK.
UK CBD NOVEL FOOD AUTHORISATION
DESPITE launching after the February 13, 2020, cut-off date Mr Tulloch remains positive it CBD products will be allowed to to remain on the UK market moving forward.
He said: ”We have had direct correspondence with the FSA on Novel Foods and their last message was that they had all they needed from us, so we’re waiting for confirmation.
“We outsource our manufacturing so we were careful to work with partners who we knew had a track record in the industry – and specifically a track record prior to February 2020. Clearly we can’t give any guarantees but all of our communications to date have been positive and no objection has been raised.”
He backs the UK CBD Novel Food process, saying: ”I think there will be a big shake up in the market. History tells us that when regulation comes, enforcement follows, often not immediately, but I think the UK and European authorities haven’t gone to the trouble of implementing new regulations for CBD for nothing.
“I think we should all expect those regulations to be adhered to. For companies like Voyager, regulations are always a slight irritant, but actually it’s also an advantage. Companies that are able and willing to comply will be the long-term success stories.
“Every forecast I see of the CBD market tells me it is going to grow by 20%-30% per annum. The numbers vary, but the percentage growth seems fairly consistent, so we believe very strongly that the CBD market will get bigger and bigger.
“If it does become more regulated and more companies drop out of the race because it becomes too difficult for their products to comply with the new rules, then that is a huge advantage to those of us who are still left in the process.”