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Mulching forward to global success

YORKSHIRE-based entrepreneurial academics Geoff and Jackie Whiteley are celebrating a double win for their innovative organic gardening product Strulch. On the day Jackie collected the Yorkshire Woman of Achievement Award, husband Geoff was delivering a repeat order to the world famous Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. Both events mark the continued success of the wheat-based peat alternative, which is gaining repeat sales from discerning gardeners at home and abroad. The labour-saving mineralised wheat straw mulch reduces weed growth by up to 95%, retains moisture thereby conserving water while enriching enriches the soil and its structure making life easier for busy gardeners. It is highly recommended by leading gardeners and endorsed by Tim Smit's Eden Project. Now the company hopes to capitalise on its first product's success by further launches of additional products currently in the pipeline. Mr Whiteley said: "Many small businesses are facing a difficult time in the current economic climate. "We're doing well because we have a competitive, high quality product and we have been very disciplined in keeping our borrowings, cash flow and expansion plans under control." Among the new products is a biodegradeable plant pot and a new pelleted compost with strong green credentials including a lower carbon footprint that most conventional composts. Mrs Whiteley continued: "Having successfully placed Strulch in leading garden centres, home improvement and supermarket chains, we should have a ready-made platform for the new product." Establishing a strong brand for a product based on new technology in a market dominated by multi-national giants has been a tough act for the Yorkshire-based business. But a growing six-figure turnover is testimony to the couple's tough and self-taught sales and marketing approach. Strulch was launched in 2004 after Mr Whiteley, a former soil scientist and biology lecturer at Leeds University, created it. The university takes a licence fee as sales of Strulch continue to grow under an intellectual property licensing agreement. The Whiteleys now hold patents for Strulch in many countries in addition to the UK.

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