Bournemouth cup noodle business expands during Covid-19 outbreak
Unlike many businesses across the world, Bournemouth based cup noodle company Mr Lee’s Noodle has used the pandemic to expand their business by launching in the American market.
The award winning noodle business now operates across three countries including the UK and Australia, with production facilities in the US going live last month.
However their latest venture got off to a rocky start as days before the they were due to announce their launch in America, the state of California announced that it was going into lockdown.
Founder Damien Lee said: “So, we have teamed up with Whole Foods Market, but we had a deadline to meet for the launch whilst the coronavirus pandemic was still in its early stages.
“There was a lot of uncertainty at the time about whether we could still get workers to come to the factory, but we managed to get it together in time.
“We were coordinating this all from our head office in Bournemouth, which was very challenging, but we have had a very productive lockdown and now become a global brand operating in three continents.”
The company are also looking to install their vending machine kiosks at service stations across the country next month.
With their launch in the US under threat, Mr Lee’s Noodles launched a crowdfunding campaign at the start of the pandemic to raise 1.75 million pounds, which they met in just five days.
Damien added: “We were raising money for our US roll out but we had to think whether or not this was the right time to do it as people had been furloughed from their jobs, businesses were shutting down and there was a lot of uncertainty as to what was going to happen.
“We decided to do it because people care about our product and people need to eat. If we were a different type of business, I don’t think we would have had the same response.
“Also, we wanted to show our customers and investors that we are a resolute business. It is a real testament to our investors and the community who stepped up and supported us.”
Damien has been coordinating all of this whilst on his fifth cycle of cancer therapy.
Although he usually receives treatment at Royal Marsden Hospital in London, he was transferred to Poole Hospital where he recently had his 77th lot of treatment.
Mr Lee’s Noodles are in the process of updating their website to cope with the additional traffic from the American market but also to keep up with the demand put on them since lockdown.
“Our online business went through the roof,” said Damien.
He added: “We lost our global travel side of our business pretty much overnight but the increased sales on our website have pretty much filled that hole with a 1,000 percent increase overnight
“We are also going to be launching a new website to ensure we can keep up with our increased demand having launched in America.”