James Murphy

Global “nutraceutical” business Lifes2good sells to over 40,000 stores globally

Mon, Jun 24, 2013, 12:15

Established in 1997, Lifes2good is a global “nutraceutical” business that sells to over 40,000 stores globally with 300,000 customers on its database.

The company markets and distributes a portfolio of natural healthcare brands across Europe, the Americas, the Middle East and Asia.

James Murphy qualified as a chartered accountant in 1986 before joining Coopers & Lybrand in Brussels, spending five years in Belgium and Luxembourg.

Returning to Ireland in 1991, he joined BMR-Slendertone where he built the brand into an international success.

He sold his shares in BMR-Slendertone to set up Irish Response- Lifes2Good and went on to purchase the Viviscal brand shortly afterwards.

Headquartered in Galway, Lifes- 2good also has international offices in Chicago, London, Paris, Madrid, Lisbon, Toronto, Sao Paulo, Sydney and Mexico City.

The company currently has 75 employees worldwide, 50 of whom are based in Ireland.

Lifes2good has an annual turnover of €26 million and product listings in 25 countries.

Its ultimate target is to have a business generating revenues of €70 million by 2015.


What vision prompted you to start up your business?
Initially I wanted to set up a distribution company in Ireland and bring all the great products to Ireland using infomercials and a solid retail presence.

However it became clear that most of the brands were given to UK companies for Britain and Ireland. Forced to compete with them, I bought a UK company and set up Lifes2good in the UK.

I then began to realise I could do this in other countries which, when we purchased Viviscal, provided us with the global vision and strategy.
What moment or deal would you identify as the “game changer” for the company?
Purchasing Viviscal from a Finnish company the week before Christmas in 2007.

It had a turnover of €700,000 which we grew to €15 million in five years.

We began selling Viviscal in the US in 2009, at New York area Duane Reade stores.

The following year, we signed a deal with Rite Aid in the United States to sell the product in 4,900 stores in the United States and, by 2011, it was being stocked in CVS and Walgreens, bringing its listing in the US to 25,000 stores.

We had to open an office in Chicago to cope with rapid expansion in the US.


What was your “back-to-the-wall” moment and how did you overcome it?
Having a €13 million court judgment awarded against me in Denmark.

The product we were selling was not the product we thought. I had the balls to go and find the best lawyers in Copenhagen to defend me and we won.


What is your greatest business achievement to date?
Taking a hair-loss product which was originally developed for men and developing a niche market worldwide in the female hair-loss category which had previously never existed.

Viviscal can now be found in 35,000 health and drug stores in the US and over 40,000 stores on a worldwide basis.


What are the biggest challenges you face now?
Finding the right people to take us to the next level, maintaining the level of focus necessary to deliver our vision and developing the culture which has helped us to get to where we are today.