The Cheeky Panda was founded by Chris Forbes, who grew up in Perthshire, with wife Julie Chen in 2016. Launched with £10,000 from friends and family, it is forecasting growth of 2019 from £2 million to £10m, and Forbes said that key to its aim for such expansion was focusing on expanding in Europe despite the Brexit storm.
He has set up a base in France to ensure access to EU markets, and the business is already across 15 countries including a presence in the Middle East. The range includes bamboo toilet tissue, facial tissues, kitchen towels, pocket tissue and baby wipes – and plans are also afoot to launch into mainstream supermarket and pharmacies.
Forbes, who is based in London, said Brexit brings opportunities as well as uncertainty. “We set up our own French entity to maintain access to markets such as France, Sweden and Italy, and if the pound goes down and the euro goes up or vice versa we have created a natural hedge.”
He also pointed out that the business type of bamboo used is not eaten by pandas, or any animals. “Bamboo grows so quickly, around a metre a day, and it needs harvested every year so the impact of the environment is minimal.”