Movers & Shakers Q&A: Hugo Adams, CEO, Frugi

Brought to you by Retail Insider and K3 Retail 

This is one in an ongoing series of profiles with individuals that are featured in the annual ‘Retail Insider Movers & Shakers in Retail Top 100‘ – this month CEO of sustainable childrenswear company Frugi.

1.What prompted the creation of Frugi?

Frugi or (Cut4Cloth as it was called back then) was created in 2004 by Lucy and Kurt Jewson who struggled to find clothing that would fit over their son’s cloth-nappied bum!  They launched a small range of fun, colourful organic pieces that gave ample room to cover a cloth nappy as well as being made from fabric that was sustainable and eco-friendly, making them pioneers in bright, organic cotton clothing at the time.  They changed the name in 2008 to ‘Frugi’, meaning ‘Fruits of the Earth’ in Latin, and the collection grew to include clothing for older children and a range of maternity and breastfeeding clothing for mums.  Frugi has grown today to a £15m turnover business with a team of over 100 people working at our HQ in Cornwall, and across the UK and Europe. Every year Frugi gives 1% of turnover to charity and all clothing is made from GOTS certified organic cotton and all outerwear is made from recycled plastic bottles.

2.What is the greatest opportunity for Frugi? 

The brand and business is in great shape continuing to grow strongly in all our existing markets.  The greatest opportunity is to now take our company global and we’re in an excellent position to do that.  We have also recently acquired TotsBots (reusable nappies) and Bloom & Nora (reusable sanitary pads) which have huge potential in both existing and new markets.  With all our brands our focus is on sustainability and ethical business and this is at the heart of everything we do.  Our overall purpose is to have a positive impact on the lives of little ones and to protect their future and our planet. 

Hugo Adams, CEO, Frugi

3.What is the biggest challenge to Frugi?

Our challenge is to educate customers and share the goal of eliminating wasteful, polluting conventional cotton practises across our industry, as well as to reach zero carbon emissions with our own business.  We need to continue making products from 100% sustainable materials that are made to last and get passed down through generations, not end up in landfill.  We need to continue to invest in our own green strategies and other carbon-reducing initiatives to measure, reduce and negate our own impact on the environment.  Our long-term challenge is to help raise the next generation of eco-warriors who will help shape the future.

4.With the benefit of hindsight what would you have done differently so far?

Not much to be honest.  I think there are probably examples of where we could have been tighter with some of our ranges and moved faster on one or two tactical opportunities, but overall our growth to date has been excellent, we’re well set up and have exciting plans for the future as well as a very talented and capable management team in place to deliver them.

5.What technology-related plans have you got for the next 12 months

We will be replatforming our website later this year and are also currently reviewing our other systems and processes to continue to strengthen the foundations of the business to support our future growth across Frugi, TotsBots and Bloom & Nora.

6.What other retail business do you admire?

I started my career at The Body Shop when Anita [Roddick] was still the CEO and I’ve always had huge admiration for businesses that are purpose-led and which have campaigning and activism high on their agendas (as we had at that time in The Body Shop).  Patagonia continues to be one of the best examples of this today and I love their great product, ethics and activism.  ‘Let My People Go Surfing’ by Yvon Chouinard is an inspiring book that I’d recommend to anyone!