Tide turns for Belu as ethical water goes global
Friday, June 13, 2014
In 2009, ethical water firm Belu had accumulated debts of £1.9m, and was making charitable donations of just £30,000 a year. Today, the business has a turnover of £4.5m and is poised to launch internationally, having helped more than 38,000 people out of water poverty through a partnership with Water Aid.
Former Barclays executive Karen Lynch, who was parachuted in to lead the company in 2010, is behind the social enterprise’s rapid turnaround: “It was a shambles when I first arrived,” she said. “It was a campaigning brand so focused on its social cause that the business was an aside.”
Over the past five years, Mrs Lynch has shifted the brand’s focus from the consumer to the hotel and restaurant sector. Belu, which sells locally sourced bottled water to minimise its carbon footprint, has also developed the most ethical glass bottle on the market, which is being adopted by competitor brands.
“Our goal is to make the market better as a whole,” explained Mrs Lynch. “If we convince one brand to believe in the Belu model, we can influence the buying decisions of thousands.”
To conserve internal resources, Mrs Lynch decided to partner with WaterAid to meet its charity obligations. It has donated £581,604 of its profits to the charity since 2011, beating its £100,000 annual target.