A COFFEE company that started life in the North-East home of its founder plans to expand its range and create jobs with the help of a six-figure cash injection.

Beanies The Flavour Co manufactures a range of flavoured ground and instant coffees, with around 30 flavours already available and more in development.

Part of this range is already exclusively available through Sainsbury's, and negotiations are already ongoing with a number of other retailers who are interested in stocking the Newton Aycliffe-based firm's products.

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Beanies is now looking at ways of moving into the lucrative ready to drink market, with the development of iced coffees under consideration, and to build on the sugar-free products' already-acknowledged suitability for use by people looking to lose weight.

To aid its development plans, Beanies has worked with regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers to obtain a £300,000 investment from the Finance For Business North East Growth Fund, with long-term advisors Clive Owen & Co advising them on the deal.

Further improvements are planned for its factory to manage the company's predicted future growth, which is expected to lead to around six new jobs being created in the next 12 months, and new export markets will be sought to build on existing overseas sales in South Africa, the Middle East and mainland Europe.

Founded by director Mark Porteous in 2009, Beanies sells products through its www.beaniesflavourco.co.uk website as well as through independent shops and speciality food outlets, and is working with Northumbria University on its new product development.

Managing director John Evans says: “Our aim is to offer an alternative dimension to coffee, and the strong brand that we've built up over the last five years by listening and responding to what our customers want has created a very solid base from which we think we can expand further.

“The UK coffee market is worth around £1bn, whereas the ready to drink market is around 16 times that size, so the rewards for establishing ourselves in it with a new range of products are plain to see, and as we currently have very few competitors

“There's also been a lot of feedback from major names in the weight loss industry that our products take away the sugar craving that many slimmers feel, even though they're totally sugar-free, and this is a market where we also think there are many opportunities.

“Our relationship with Sainsbury's was a real milestone in our development, and we're currently in discussions with a number of other major retailers who are interested in adding our products to their shelves.

“We were introduced by Clive Owen & Co to NEL, who were already aware of the success we'd achieved up to that point, and the capital they've provided will give us the means to accelerate our development on a number of different fronts."

Chris Parker, investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “Beanies is a well-established brand in a growing market where it has few real competitors, and has clear plans for expanding into other areas that could add very significantly to the company's commercial success."

Ben Williamson, Associate Director with Clive Owen Corporate Finance, says: “Beanies have grown incredibly quickly over the course of the last twelve months supported by careful marketing, strong brand identity a highly driven management team. It has been a pleasure to work alongside them in sourcing the best funding solution to secure the company’s future.”