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Religion seeking £5m to fuel expansion

Young fashion brand Religion is courting investors in a bid to secure £5m to kick off international expansion plans.

Darren Collins, who wholly owns Religion, told Drapers he had received approaches from two potential backers - an unnamed private equity firm and a retailer.

He said he aimed to secure funds within six to eight months to launch standalone stores in the US, India and France within a year. He also plans to launch a wholesale operation in Canada.

The stores in India and France are likely to be franchises or joint ventures but Collins said Religion would operate its own standalone stores in the US.

“We are looking for knowledge, not just the money, and are looking for investors who have the experience of expanding a brand internationally,” Collins said. “We don’t want to be UK-focused, like brands such as Superdry or All Saints.”

Collins said Religion, which has 250 UK stockists and two standalone stores in Shoreditch and Spitalfields in east London, which opened in December 2008 and December 2009 respectively, is on track for a 20% to 25% rise in sales over the next year.

He declined to disclose sales figures and they were not available from Companies House.

Religion was established in 1989, and this month it launched a shop-in-shop concept for its indie stockists. The first, measuring 800 sq ft, opened in menswear indie Bolo in Hull this month. A second shop-in-shop will open in menswear indie Richmond Classics in Bournemouth on November 4 and the concept will be rolled out to four more indies over the next six months.

Collins said the brand would also open pop-up shops next year.

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