As growth plans are reined in across the corporate world, Auckland-based Ecostore is bucking the trend.

Founder Malcolm Rands has secured distribution of the company’s health and environmentally focused products to more than 180 supermarket stores in the United States.

Its range includes plant-based household cleaning and baby-care products which do not use chemicals.

Roll-out trials begin next month through hypermarket chain Meijer in Ohio, Michigan and Illinois.

“In preparation for the Meijer launch we’ve increased our manufacturing capabilities and are also investigating possible locations for a US factory in the future,” Rands said.

Ecostore sells its products through supermarkets and health food stores in Australia and New Zealand, online in Britain, Hong Kong, Korea and the US, via mail-order and through its own shop in Auckland.

The company makes its products in a South Auckland factory and some manufacturing is contracted out.

Chief executive Mitch Cuevas said it was planned to lift sales from a current $10 million-$20 million to $50 million-$100 million in the next five years.

“We’d started strong growth before all the financial issues started cropping up,” Cuevas said. “But to be honest, we haven’t seen any slowing with our end consumers or our customers.” He said it was a low-risk, high-growth product for the company’s customers.

“From a perspective of credit and cash flow for growth, we haven’t had a problem because we’ve shown we’ve got such a strong product which stands on its own two legs,” he said.

“I think environmental is going to be a probably harder sell over the next 12 months because of the economy but the health aspect … I think that people won’t be willing to sacrifice.”

The company’s products could cost more but be more economical because of their concentration, Cuevas said.

Rands has also talked to management at supermarket chains Wal-Mart and Giant Eagle.

“They are very interested in what we do and are making positive signals at the moment,” Rands said.

A joint venture with a UK-based firm, in which Ecostore could contract out the manufacturing of its products to the UK for the British market, was on the table. While returning to New Zealand Rands met a potential partner in Singapore – a market he tipped as Ecostore’s next possible target.

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