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Fearne & Rosie has opted to take industry backing after turning down an investment offer from Dragons’ Den as the children’s jam and spreads brand eyes £3m sales ambition.

The Yorkshire-headquartered business has partnered with Giles Brook as it readies to scale up expansion in the fast-growing category.

Brook, who backs a growing portfolio of fmcg challenger brands, invested an undisclosed sum in Fearne & Rosie after founder Rachel Kettlewell decided against an offer of £40,000 for 35% of the business from dragon Tej Lalvani.

Fearne & Rosie – named after Kettlewell’s two children – makes a range of jam, honey and spreads specifically for children, using all natural ingredients, no palm oil and containing 40% less sugar than standard brands.

It has already secured nationwide listings with Waitrose and Ocado, as well as being stocked locally in Morrisons and with specialist and independent retailers.

Since filming in the episode of Dragons’ Den in September last year, Kettlewell has resigned from her teaching job to focus full time on building Fearne & Rosie.

The brand has undergone a refresh, with new labelling and a relaunched website, and launched NPD for two new jam variants in Waitrose.

Sales at the business increased by 750% in the two weeks after the BBC One programme aired in April.

With the backing of Brook, Fearne & Rosie is aiming to grow revenues to £3m in the next three years.

Kettlewell said it had been “a whirlwind” few months for the business and Dragons’ Den was “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”.

“It’s important to thank Tej for his offer but, ultimately, we reached an amicable decision to decline,” she added.

“I needed – and still do need – help and guidance to grow Fearne & Rosie to be the best that it can be. This is where Giles’ guidance will be instrumental.

“As a business we’ve made some incredible gains since filming and I can’t wait to share with everyone what we’ve been up too.”

Sales in the jam, honey and spreads category have soared during lockdown, adding £120.8m (a 21.7% rise) in retail value to £676.9m last year [Kantar 52 w/e 29 November 2020].

Brook said: “The future for Fearne & Rosie is really exciting. Jam and honey is a £300m category growing at double-digit rates and there simply isn’t a family centric healthier brand currently on the shelves.

“Over half of UK households have previously bought jam or honey and we want to help these consumers, particularly families, get access to healthier, tastier, happier foods. Rachel is an amazing mum and founder and I’m delighted to be helping her bring her vision for Fearne & Rose to life.”

Brook has added a number of brands to his investment portfolio since stepping back after 12 years as European CEO at Vita Coco in January, including gut health business Bio & Me and eco cleaning products start-up Neat.

The former Grocer Gold Award Entrepreneur of the Year winner also holds stakes in Pip & Nut, Dalston’s Soda, Presto, Edgard & Cooper, Bepps and Sir Kensington.

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