Vegan advocate and entrepreneur Heather Mills has taken a new approach to support the UK plant-based sector with the acquisition of online marketplace Alternative Stores.

Mills, who bought her VBites assets out of administration at the start of the year, is seeking to help small protein-alternative businesses launch their own brands with the deal.

The self-proclaimed philanthropist and investor took a swipe at corporate culture barriers that, she suggested, have been a bottleneck to development.

“I observed too many family businesses struggling to get listed on corporate-owned selling websites, facing endless paperwork, poor communication, and exorbitant charges that ultimately harmed their operations,” Mills said in a statement.

“I aim to create an ethical online store that supports family businesses and diminishes the control of large corporations abusing their power. People may find these companies convenient, however, they are harming the consumers’ pocket and ethics in other ways they have not considered.”

VBites offers its own range of alternative products, including free-from in the meat, dairy and seafood categories supplied out of two UK manufacturing plants in Peterlee, County Durham, and Corby in Northamptonshire.

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Alternative Stores is a dedicated vegan online site offering products from snacks to drinks and pet food, to footwear and clothing.

The business was set up by father and daughter team Dan and Zahra John. Mr John is retiring while his daughter will stay on with the business post-transaction, which was struck for an undisclosed sum.

“We are excited for the future of Alternative Stores with such a passionate vegan pioneer in Heather Mills,” they said in the statement.

“We have built up the most amazing and loyal customer base and know they will be as delighted as we both are for the ideas and plans that Heather and her team are working on.”

Mills’ business operations also include another UK manufacturing facility in Boston, Lincolnshire, which the entrepreneur acquired when she bought the assets of Plant & Bean in 2023.

She added in the statement: “Our wider plan is to integrate this offering with the many high protein, delicious alternatives we already produce at VBites, creating a central hub of ‘hero’ plant-based products in one place.

“Our customers predominantly shop online, so our goal is to create a one-stop shop for convenience to consolidate a wide variety of nutritious and delicious alternative products under a single banner and framework.”