Footwear and outerwear brand Oliver Sweeney has attracted £3.75m of new investment to support the business’s future growth plans, such as licensing.
The investment has been made by the Business Growth Fund – a £2.5bn fund comprising five of the UK’s main banks that injects capital into smaller companies across all sectors – in return for an undisclosed minority stake.
The majority owner of Oliver Sweeney is private investor Amery Capital, run by former M&S menswear director Maurice Helfgott and backed by 2006 Drapers Awards Lifetime Achievement winners Maurice and Michael Bennett, founders of Warehouse, Oasis and Coast. The brand is run on a day-to-day basis by cobbler-in-chief Tim Cooper, who is also a significant investor.
Helfgott told Drapers the funds will be used to pay down shareholder debt and provide “financial flexibility to grow the business”, giving both the Bennetts some return on their investment while they retain a “significant stake”.
Helfgott and Cooper also plan to use the investment to explore potential licensing options to expand the brand’s sales channels.
As a part of the investment, BGF investment director Alistair Brew has joined the board of Oliver Sweeney as non-executive director, while Adam Leigh, who founded and last year sold marketing firm The Communications Agency, has joined as an independent non-executive director.
Helfgott, chairman at Oliver Sweeney, said: “Over the past three years, Oliver Sweeney has developed rapidly and sustainably, quickly reaching the critical juncture in its development at which it now finds itself.
“There is now a great opportunity to build our brand, product and reputation, especially internationally, from its current base of obsessive customers. Men are ever-more interested in shoes, style and individuality. The investment from BGF is perfectly timed to transform the business into the next British menswear success story.”
Brew added: “Oliver Sweeney is a fantastic business with some exceptionally talented people working for it, offering its customers a wide range of high quality handmade products and a great online experience. We believe this is an opportunity to back an established men’s shoe brand that has grown well, building a loyal customer following at the same time.
“Very thorough due diligence has been exercised throughout this investment, and we are keen to grow Oliver Sweeney’s profitability by introducing licensing and then implementing a decisive shift in channel mix. We can support companies like this; by providing a financial boost and strengthening the balance sheet to realise strategic opportunities.”