AJ Bell  

Andy Bell backs sports meals delivery startup

Andy Bell backs sports meals delivery startup
Fuel Hub founder James Laithwaite, Andy Bell, Fuel Hub CEO Michelle Laithwaite and former AJ Bell director Fergus Lyons

AJ Bell’s founder and outgoing chief executive has co-led a £1.2mn investment in a meal delivery startup hoping to disrupt the way athletes and sports teams consume their food.

Andy Bell, who has spent the past 27 years growing his investment platform, announced his step back from AJ Bell in June.

Already the owner of two-star Michelin restaurant, Moor Hall, Bell has now added to his food-themed investment portfolio with healthy meal delivery service Fuel Hub. 

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Bell has invested in Fuel Hub alongside Fergus Lyons, a former director of AJ Bell. 

The business was founded in 2019 by ex-rugby player James Laithwaite and his wife Michelle. Retiring at the age of 28 following a series of injuries, James has set his sights on becoming the ‘go-to nutrition partner’ for sports teams and athletes.

Him and Michelle have retained a 50 per cent stake in the business following Bell and Lyon’s investment, and remain chief operating officer and chief executive, respectively.

The business intends to use the funds to move into a new 10,000 square ft facility to boost delivery capacity to over 20,000 meals per week.

It also plans to double its staff headcount to 30 over the next 12 months. The startup currently works with Warrington Wolves, Team GB, Fulham FC, Blackpool FC and Derby Country FC, but wants to more than quadruple this list by mid-next year.

Despite going live just before a global pandemic, Fuel Hub has increased its turnover each year since inception - growing from £85,000 in the year of launch to £600,000 last year.

“Great businesses need great products and great people,” said Bell. “Fuel Hub has both. Michelle and James’ enthusiasm for what is clearly a thriving business in an untapped market made this one of my easier investment decisions.”

At AJ Bell, Bell spearheaded a nine-year partnership with premiership rugby club Sale Sharks. The advertising deal ended this year, ahead of his exit as chief executive.

Fuel Hub’s founder James said he personally knows the barriers teams and athletes face when getting access to quality nutrition.

“I know the impact the right food has on your physical and mental wellbeing and this is paramount to perform at your best – be that in sport, business or day-to-day life,” he said.

“The investment will enable us to provide even more teams and athletes with the crucial nutrition they need to perform at the highest level.”

As well as sourcing meals for sports teams, the company also shops weekly boxes of meals to households across the UK who want healthy meals which can be prepared in less than three minutes.

ruby.hinchliffe@ft.com