Scottish CBD firm leading the race for government approval
PURE Sport CBD was set up two years ago by Scottish rugby stars Adam Ashe and Grayson Hart. It is leading the race to be the first CBD brand to apply for Food Standards Agency (FSA) approval in the UK after the regulatory deadline of March 31 next year. The brands’ products contain tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is the main psychoactive element of the cannabis plant.
Name: Adam Ashe
WHAT IS THE BUSINESS CALLED?
Pure Sport CBD
WHERE IS IT BASED?
WHY DID YOU SET UP THE BUSINESS?
I AM a professional rugby player and I left Glasgow Warriors a few months ago. When playing rugby I always got bumps and bruises and heard about US footballers saying CBD oil was helping them to recover. I had to get surgery on an ankle injury and I was back after 12 weeks but my ankle didn’t feel right and got worse. The surgeon said he could go back and look at it and at that point I decided to try CBD oil. I bought some from a local store in Glasgow and within a day or so I saw a difference. It was like I had used ibuprofen and I was sleeping better. I didn’t feel stiff in the morning so I thought I needed to use it more often. My business partner was using CBD oil for a knee problem. When we spoke to our team physio and doctors they advised us not to use it as THC is a banned substance in sport. We started reaching out to companies to see if we could pass the drug test using the product and they said to use it at your own risk so we decided to set something up ourselves. We spoke to manufacturers in the US and Europe. It was initially two products but we have eight now. We got it tested through the US company Banned Substances Control Group (BSCG) which means athletes can use it safely.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
MOST people tend to use CBD oil products for sleep, anxiety and pain relief. We do a muscle/joint balm that people love and capsules with turmeric, ginger, black pepper and CBD in them. We’ve had good feedback from people with arthritis and inflammation issues.
We’ve had lots of repeat buys which is a really good sign. CBD is still an unregulated market and there are lots of brands cutting corners. We will be more regulated by March next year.
WHAT IS YOUR TARGET MARKET?
INITIALLY it was people who play sports. Through playing rugby I had lots of contacts in the area. I put it on social media and from there I started to see customers following players and using the products. Athletes only make up 2-5% of our customers. Our target is people who care about what they put in their body.
Older people tend to be more rigid in their views and don’t want to use unregulated CBD.
People’s attitude is changing. I didn’t want to use CBD products before I started using them. I didn’t want to take the risk. We are trying to educate people as much as possible. Hemp plant usually only has 0.03% of THC in it so the chances of testing positive in a drugs test are very low.
HOW IS IT DIFFERENT FROM COMPETING BUSINESSES?
WE test products thoroughly through the BSCG and there are only two or three CBD companies in the world doing that. It’s a cost we’re willing to pay to help as many people as we can. We need to make sure people are comfortable to use the products which stands us in good stead. We will probably see more companies want to do that in the future. People have to feel confident in what they use.
IS SCOTLAND A GOOD PLACE FOR THIS TYPE OF BUSINESS?
YES, we started the business here. We have five other staff members based in and around London. We are expanding all over the UK and ship globally to everywhere that allows CBD. Lots of people are using it in South Africa, Hong Kong and Japan. We are also starting to partner up with distribution companies in different countries like Hong Kong.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT RUNNING THE BUSINESS?
HEARING customer feedback and knowing you are helping people to see good results. That’s the most rewarding part.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN RUNNING THE BUSINESS?
I’M a creative person and I love socialising and business development. It can be frustrating when you have to do something you don’t enjoy so I don’t love that part of being a start-up. I’ve been playing rugby in the evenings but my business partner has been working full-time on this for a year. You can end up working round the clock non-stop. In lockdown we worked 10-hour days six days a week which I’m not used to as an athlete. We don’t have the funds to bring on more staff and that’s the biggest struggle.
WHERE DO YOU HOPE THE BUSINESS WILL BE IN 10 YEARS’ TIME?
IN two to three years, we have forecasted that the business will be doing well and potentially at a point where bigger players are coming into it. By 2023 the UK CBD market will be worth £1 billion. In the next three to five years, we want to establish ourselves as the UK/Europe’s leading brand that people can
rely on. We’re waiting to see what things will look like but in about five years I plan to sell the company on to someone looking to buy up a smaller company with a sport/active angle.