Heavyweight boxing champion of the world Anthony Joshua OBE has signed an initial three-year endorsement deal and taken a stake in cannabis and CBD company Love Hemp Group (WRHLF), a move that the band's CEO said it hopes will bring validation to a "stigmatised market".
The endorsement comes despite the fact that Joshua is not currently permitted to use the products the brand sells due to the fact they haven't yet been certificated by Informed Sport, which is required by the Boxing Federation.
CEO Tony Calamita said that the brand and certification service Informed Sport are still developing the methodology for what an approved product would need to pass their testing.
This agreement comes as Love Hemp prepares to move to the main market of the London Stock Exchange in the coming months. Joshua will be given shares on an annual basis in return for the endorsement — the company said he has the potential to be a top 10 holder in the company.
Since the UK's financial regulator changed the rules around listing, there has been a flurry of CBD and cannabis companies heading to market.
Love Hemp Group plans to move into an additional six to 10 territories in the near future with local e-commerce websites and distribution. The US launch will take place in the next few months.
It is hoping for a big change in regulatory attitudes under the Biden administration with the FDA.
Calamita said the brand is looking to "move at an electric pace" and there are more partnerships in the pipeline.
When asked whether the fact that Joshua doesn't use Love Hemp Group products might be an issue for people's trust in the industry, which had been flagged as a resistance area for the brand, Calamita defended the benefits of CBD, and noted Joshua's dedication to promoting them.
"When a product has such a strong impact for improving quality of life, from sleep to inflammation and joint pain, that's what's grown the popularity," he said.
In the longer term, Love Hemp and Joshua will also collaborate on a licensed range of CBD products for athletes.
Love Hemp has over 40 products on the UK market including oils, edibles, sprays and cosmetics.
The company sells its products across 70 websites and 2,000 stores including Holland & Barrett, Sainsbury’s and Ocado.
"Love Hemp is a great brand with an amazing vision. The ability of CBD to improve people's everyday lives is undeniable. I have a passion for dynamic British businesses, and for wellness, making Love Hemp a perfect brand for me to endorse and become a shareholder in," said Joshua in a statement released by the company.
The brand tie-up is one of a number of celebrity endorsements in the market. David Beckham-backed Cellular Goods (CBX.L) recently swung to a £2.1m ($3m) loss in the six months to the end of February 2021. The business lost just £140,000 in the same period a year earlier, despite a bumper debut.
The company blamed set-up costs and one-off share-based incentive payments for key members of staff. Cellular Goods listed on the stock market during the period and has been gearing up to launch its first consumer products, both of which are capital-intensive processes.
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