Online tailoring business A Suit That Fits has surpassed its crowdfunding target of £500,000 which it plans to use to create a nationwide network of 300 freelance suit fitters.
The London-based business, which produces suits in Nepal, has raised £541,110 via crowdfunding site Crowdcube, in exchange for 5% equity in the business. The funding has been extended for a further eight days.
Co-founder David Hathiramani said the firm is aiming to recruit and train around 300 self-employed suit fitters, through a franchise model, over the next five years to become “a platform player” in the tailoring industry, similar to technology firms such as Uber for taxis or JustEat for takeaways.
“We want to engage and train 300 fit experts by 2020 and help them to grow their own local businesses,” he said. “We want the personality of our self-employed fitters to come through and it will be all about customer feedback, like some of these other tech firms.”
The company currently employs approximately 30 people in the UK, including 15 style advisors, 60 people in production in Nepal and five people for administration and computer aided design (CAD) in India.
It is now investing in a 12,000 sq ft facility in Nepal to scale up production, with the help of a €380,000 (£278,700) grant from the Dutch government.
“This will give us capacity for ten times more suits than we can do at the moment, around 1,000 suits per week,” explained Hathiramani.
“The new facility should be up and running in the next six to eight months and will allow us to produce suits with a two-week delivery time.”
The company is holding two-week training courses in London at a cost of £999 for potential self-employed fitters, which will focus on fit techniques, as well as the skills required to build and run a local business, such as customer service.
“We started the first course with two people on August 4 who have both successfully passed the evaluation so should be up and running soon. The next course will be held in September and we already have had 120 applicants.”
The accredited suit fitters will be advertised on the company’s website and can expect to receive 12% to 28% of the cost of a suit, which is typically around £550, but can range between £299 and £1,100. The value can differ due to the amount of post-production and alterations required for each suit.
Fitters can expect to pay £50 for a marketing lead to follow up and will also be charged for accommodation if they use one of the company’s fit studios.
“We see this as being all about offering fantastic value and being accessible for the customer, both in terms of having local availability and also short lead times,” said Hathiramani.
The company was established in 2006 by Hathiramani and co-founder Warren Bennett after a friend returned from travelling with a high quality yet inexpensive suit from Kathmandu, where part of the business’s operation is now based.
It entered administration in December 2012 but was quickly rescued in a pre-pack deal by a company wholly owned by turnaround specialist Keith Watson called DW Clothing.
Bennett then left the business and Watson, who is also a non-executive director at luxury leather goods brand Aspinal of London, became non-executive chairman charged with “sorting out the firm’s profitability and creating a platform to scale the business up”.
Simon Calver, who is known for selling LoveFilm to Amazon in 2011 and was chief executive of Mothercare from 2012 to 2014, and Gi Fernando, who previously invested in travel app CityMapper, joined the board and invested in the business at the end of 2014.
Hathiramani said A Suit That Fits had a turnover of £2.6m in 2014 and made a profit of £184,000, with annual production of around 6,000 suits. The crowdfunding round values the firm at £10m.