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Womenswear brand Ness to expand with £2.5m investment

Scottish women’s lifestyle brand Ness has received £2.5m from small business investor YFM Equity Partners, which it will use to open up to 30 stores in the UK over the next five years, review its wholesale strategy and grow its online presence. The website and online infrastructure will also be redesigned at a date to be confirmed.

The retail expansion will focus on England, where Ness has three stores. It has eight shops in Scotland.

The growth plan will be overseen Dean Murray, who joined as chairman in March and is also a non-executive director at French Connection. The company is looking for a head of retail and a head of technology to join in the next 12 months.

Clydesdale Bank has set aside additional funding of £1m if required.

A review of its 340 stockists will take place, with the intention of signing up a greater number of multiples in the UK and Europe and launching into the Far East and US.

Current stockists include DuBarry in Exeter, Mimi Yuyu in Bath and Cuckoo Clothing in Cambridge.

Ness was founded in Edinburgh by husband and wife Adrienne and Gordon MacAulay in 1997 and produces two collections per year, comprising clothing, footwear and accessories. Retail prices range from £5.99 for a broach to £149.99 for a wool blend coat.

The business recorded a turnover of £5m in 2014, which it has forecast will climb to £6m this year and between £15m and £20m in 2016.

YFM previously invested £1.3m in outdoor clothing and equipment retailer Go Outdoors and an undisclosed amount in technical sailing clothing and accessories business Gill. The Ness deal was led by YMF investment director Charlie Robinson.

@LukeToddUK

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