Stirlingshire businessman bags a brilliant idea

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When Glen Templeton spent five years living in Canada, he forgot all about plastic shopping bags and embraced it’s, ‘bag for life,’ culture.

Upon his return to the UK, Glen decided to launch The Grocery Box Company, selling Big Fat Bags, the re-usable, anti-bacterial shopping bags that have proved so popular with him, and over 8 million North Americans. The business began trading in early spring, in advance of the 5p charge for single use plastic bags, which will come into force in the UK in October.

Professor Hugh Pennington CBE, of Aberdeen University, has endorsed the unique antibacterial properties of the bag, while Ruth Langsford, of ITV’s This Morning, has praised the innovative fold away design.

Glen has been busy growing his new venture, which is based in Killearn, with support and advice from Business Gateway:

“Business Gateway has been fantastic. I met with a marketing specialist, who listened to my vision for the business and has stressed the importance of me getting out there and actively promoting what we have to offer. I’m also in the process of meeting with my Business Adviser to discuss the various resources and funding options available to me,” said Glen.

Glen was working in Canada as Director of Enterprise Sales for global firm Dun and Bradstreet, when he became aware of the bags. “In supermarkets over there, you’re provided with a large, reusable, anti-bacterial, bag, that is quite box like when unfolded. My wife and I didn’t give it much thought as everybody uses them, but by the time we left we couldn’t do without them – they’re such a fantastic design” said Glen.

When they returned to Scotland, Glen’s wife suggested they start selling the bags in the UK, and so the couple applied for the patent and design specifics, which are based in North America, and then placed their first order with the manufacturer in China.

“China is the perfect place to make the bags as they’re very concerned with cleanliness, which is a fundamental aspect of the design. The bags are lifetime wipe clean and use the same antibacterial technology as operating theatres,” said Glen.

“A Glasgow Caledonian University study showed coliform (a fecal bacteria) found in more than half of the everyday fabric, or plastic, ‘bags for life,’ tested, and U.S studies have shown 12% E.Coli present. There was a further poll taken where 97% of people asked where not aware there was any threat of bacteria from their ‘bags-for-life.’

When we presented our bags to Professor Hugh Pennington, he said that after exhaustive testing they passed with flying colours.

Glen came up with the branding for the bag, which is based on the concept of, ‘making a big fat difference.’ “Plastic bags are the ultimate symbol of our throw away culture. A plastic bag could be sitting in a landfill for 1000 years before it degrades and that’s really disturbing, especially when we factor in the damage done to wildlife and the environment,” said Glen.

Big Fat Bags are currently available in 4 styles and can be purchased online, although Glen is currently in talks with a number of stores, including a major supermarket, who are keen to supply his products.  “I’m focused on getting the brand out there and I’m meeting lots of new customers at farmers markets. We sent a couple of bags to Ruth Langford and she tweeted us saying how much she loves them.

“The patented design which enables a strong but collapsible structure is the main reason behind all the positive feedback, as it makes life so much easier at checkouts and for taking groceries home intact, and when you add in the  lifetime antibacterial embedded, it really is the only shopping bag you’ll ever need,” said Glen.

Sandy Slater, Rural Business Adviser, Business Gateway, said: “Glen is really passionate about this product and we’ve been delighted to assist him as gets Big Fat Bags off the ground. This a fantastic, and very timely, product, and we will continue to support Glen as he develops his venture even further.”

Glen said: “Over the next year or so we would like to be in a position where we’re selling enough bags to hire more staff and add further designs and sizes, in addition to Thermal boxes & Cool bags to the range.”

For more information on how Business Gateway can help your business visit or call 01786 463416.

Outwith this area? Find your local Business Gateway office and speak to them for support and advice.

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