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Ariella seeks cash to revive retail arm

Eveningwear brand and supplier Ariella is seeking investment to help it revive its retail arm and expand into new territories.

Ariella, whose business includes its eponymous mainline, its top-end Ariella Couture collection and the manufacture of own-label eveningwear for 10 UK accounts including John Lewis and House of Fraser, closed its retail arm in 1985 after the death of co-founder Aristos Constantinou.

Ariella plans to open concessions for its premium label Ariella Couture as well as opening a London flagship and launching a transactional website next year. It is seeking funding from external backers for the roll-out, including the HSBC Business Thinking 2010 scheme, which offers up to £5m in lending as well as a cash grant of £100,000 to selected businesses.

Ariella co-founder and chief executive Achilleas Constantinou said: “I’m confident we’ll get substantial finance from HSBC. However, there are several areas we want to grow and that capital would only fund a few elements of that.”

He said that with the right backing, turnover at the business could grow twenty-fold to £100m within 10 years.

Constantinou also wants to expand the Ariella brand’s offer into a complete womenswear collection, by adding soft separates and knitwear. “There is huge potential. We launched a tailoring collection in February 2009 and it had sales of £1.4m in its first year,” he said.

Ariella will also expand its wholesale business into new territories including China, Russia and Japan, as well as targeting the UK indie and home-shopping markets. Constantinou said he would like 400 UK indie stockists and the same number again in Europe.

Ariella won the High Octane Glamour Award at the UK Fashion & Textile Export Awards 2010 last month.

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