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Exclusive: Ex-Crew Clothing CEO invests in shirt company

Former Crew Clothing chief executive Louise Barnes has invested in shirt company Beaufort & Blake and joined the management team as investor director.

Barnes has invested an undisclosed sum for a minority stake in the business. Stuart Owens, who worked with Barnes as chief financial officer at Crew and Fat Face. has also invested in the business.

“The idea was to find a business to invest in ourselves,” said Barnes, who left Crew Clothing in 2017.

“We started talking to the guys last year and realised they had something good, but needed some grey hairs to help them take it to the next level.

“I loved the brand’s story and heritage, and it’s in a similar space to other lifestyle brands I’ve previously worked with, but with a slightly different point of view.”

Beaufort & Blake was launched out of the back of a Land Rover in 2013 by Sam Pullin and Edward Bonnar, with just 50 shirts that sold out within a week.

Year-on-year growth at the brand currently stands at 60% to 70%. Beaufort & Blake will use the investment to grow the company across the board.

Staff numbers have already increased from five to seven this year, including the hire of a new visual merchandiser. Barnes expects this number to grow to 10 by the end of the year.

More money has been invested in stock, as well as in an ecommerce system upgrade and in marketing.

The brand will launch its first substantial outerwear collection for autumn 19, and there will be a push on womenswear for the coming year. Womenswear currently accounts for 10% of the business which the team hopes to grow to 40%.

“Everything is on steroids,” said Pullin. “We’ve found a winning combination for a partnership and we’re grateful for the expertise that Louise and Stuart can offer.”

Barnes said she and Owens are working with the two founders rather than taking over the management of the business.

“We work as a team of four and part of what we’re doing is also coaching the guys. We’re not into the boss titles.”


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