Friday business profile - VitaburstBy Paul Robins
January 16, 2009
Based at Reading station, health snack firm Vitaburst is on a mission to ensure today’s busy commuters get their five-a-day. Boss Kathy Hallworth told Paul Robins how a healthy breakfast sets you up for the day
The business: Vitaburst Juice Bars Ltd, Reading Railway Station, 07917 095820.
The bosses: Husband and wife team Stuart and Kathy Hallworth. The pair came to Britain from South Africa five years ago and stayed to study nutrition.
What is your business about? “Vitaburst is dedicated to keeping it’s customers healthy by giving them their daily dose of goodness with freshly squeezed fruit juices, smoothies, fair trade teas, and breakfast bars from our kiosk in Reading station.
“We also have a range of nutritious ‘grab and go’ options for those in a hurry, which includes freshly made porridge, granola, muesli and hot soups for those cold winter mornings.
“The company makes a point of only selling healthy, additive free food using fresh ingredients.”
How did you get started? “We started travelling on trains and became frustrated at not being able to find quick, healthy snack alternatives on the go – and stumbled upon an apparent gap in the market.
"So we decided to set up a kiosk at Oxford railway station in 2005 and then opened our second outlet in Reading in 2006.”
Who are your customers? “They include everyone from students and schoolchildren to corporate workers. I would say our regular return customers are the busy professionals and corporates.
"But we cater for anyone who wants to look after their health.”
Tell me about your Healthy Breakfast campaign? “We are on a mission to educate people about the importance of having a proper start to the day.
“Having a healthy breakfast packed with nutrients sets you up for the day – it kick starts your metabolism, burns fat, keeps you fuller for longer and reduces calories until lunchtime.
"It also improves memory, mood and concentration.
“Vitaburst will be donating a percentage of our breakfast sales throughout January to World Cancer Research Fund in an effort to create awareness between eating right and health.
“From February 1 we will be deploying a breakfast bar on platform five to offer our pre-prepared breakfast options to commuters as they wait for their trains.”
What is the feedback like? “It’s great. So many of our customers say they are glad we are there. People don’t want any more coffee and pastry places.
“It means they don’t have to worry about not having time to grab breakfast before they leave their homes in the mornings.”
Has your business been affected by the credit crunch? “Our Oxford sales have risen by 30 per cent in the past three months but it has definitely had an impact in Reading. We have found things a lot tougher here.
“We have tried to analyse the reasons why – Reading is a big station and sometimes we can get a little bit lost on the concourse.
"We also get a lot more tourists visiting Oxford than Reading, who are happy to spend their money while they are on holiday.”
What’s it like working with your family? “It’s good. We make a great team. It does take its toll and it is definitely a challenge but it has made our relationship stronger in many ways.”
What are your plans for the future? “To hit the corporate market and set up a delivery service to businesses. We are going to try it in Oxford first, but there is huge potential for the scheme in Reading.
“In the long-term it would be nice to take the concept to other train stations and possibly shopping centres where there is a lack of healthy options available.
“Our mission is simple – to offer commuters a great tasting, quality product that makes them feel good while being good for them too.”