In August 2013, Arran Aromatics, Scotland’s leading manufacturer of luxury toiletries, lifestyle products and gifts, secured a £2.8m growth capital investment from BGF. This was BGF’s sixth investment in Scotland.
Founded by Janet and Iain Russell in 1988 on the Isle of Arran off the West coast of Scotland, Arran Aromatics has built a brand that is recognised across the world. The performance of the family owned business has fluctuated over the last decade and the company was rescued from the brink of administration in 2009 by independent businessman and turnaround expert, Iain Pittman.
BGF took a minority stake and BGF Investor Duncan Macrae took a seat on the board. Since BGF’s investment, Arran has recruited Jacqui Gale, who was previously chief executive of Crabtree&Evelyn’s business in Europe, Middle East and Africa, as its new chief executive to drive forward the company’s ambitious international growth plans.
Iain Pittman, who has had a long association with the company, has become chairman following the departure of Alastair Kerr. Alastair joined the business as chairman in 2013 when BGF invested in the company and stood down after completing his role to help stabilise the business and lay the foundations for its expansion.
Jacqui studied chemistry at Edinburgh Napier University before joining cosmetics brand Estee Lauder.
Her career has included working with brands such as Lulu Guinness, Pretty Polly lingerie/hosiery and Revlon Cosmetics, as well as driving the European performance of clothing manufacturer Russell Europe prior to its takeover by Fruit of the Loom and leading the growth of clothing distributor, Falk & Ross Group based in Germany.
Iain Pittman began working with the company in 2009 and brought on board BGF to take a minority stake in 2013. The company has annual revenues of around £5m a year, and employs 120 staff on Arran and in its network of ten shops and nine concessions on the UK mainland.
All of its products are still made and hand-finished in Scotland, before being sold in more than 30 countries. The business most recently opened a new store in Edinburgh’s George Street, relocating from a basement space to a prime retail position in the heart of the city’s stylish shopping district.
Arran Aromatics also creates bespoke products for several big-name brands, including Cromlix, Abode Hotels Macdonald Hotels, Cameron House and the DeVere Group.
Trunki was the first Bristol based company to secure investment from BGF.
Trunki designs, distributes and manufactures branded, multifunctional travel products for children. The company started trading in 2006 when Rob Law launched its original ride-on suitcase product. Turned down by Dragons’ Den, the company has sold two million units of its suitcase worldwide and its travel products are stocked in over 2,500 stores across the UK, as well as 97 countries overseas.
Trunki has won a number of awards including the 2012 SME of the Year at the National Business Awards. Rob received an MBE for services to business in 2011.
Since the launch of its original suitcase, Trunki has steadily expanded its portfolio of unique products, with the introduction of BoostApak (car seat/back pack), PaddlePak (water resistant character back pack), Travel ToyBox (ride on toy box), SnooziHedz (travel pillow and blanket) and a range of accessories. The company currently holds license agreements for Hello Kitty, Gruffalo, Moshi Monsters and Lotus.
The company is increasingly manufacturing its products in-house following the purchase of its own factory (Magma Moulding) in Plymouth in December 2012.
The company is based in Bristol where it employs 30 employees, with a further 44 employed at the factory in Plymouth.
Trunki is a market leader in the UK and significant growth opportunities for increased product sales exist overseas, particularly in China, Japan, Germany, France and the Middle East.
BGF’s £3.92m investment has helped fund the development of new products, grow the international sales and support development of the Trunki brand through above the line marketing.
Stuart Rose, the former Chairman of toy group Hamleys and ex-Managing Director of The Body Shop, joined the Trunki board as non-executive Chairman. This introduction was made by BGF through its Talent Network.
Trunki plans to triple the size of its addressable market by developing products for a wider age range.
Online garden products retailer secures £4 million investment
Owned and managed by the husband and wife team of Ian Charles and Erica Robb, Primrose is a rapidly growing online garden products retailer. Since 2003 the company has achieved impressive annual growth rates of up to 40% and is currently employing 125 people in Reading, Berkshire.
In June 2012 Business Growth Fund invested £4 million of growth capital in Primrose. BGF’s equity investment will enable the company to significantly increase its employees and senior team and to fund working capital. This will enable the business to continue on its established growth trajectory to maximise awareness of its quality products. BGF will take a minority stake in the business and James Austin will join the existing board on behalf of BGF.
With the help of BGF, the company aims to grow through an expansion of its product range.
BGF invests in Midlands’ toy company
Based in Wolverhampton, Wow! Stuff is a toy development business that creates or sources inventions from across the world and develops these ideas into marketable products sold to wholesalers and retailers globally. It generally owns the Intellectual Property of the toys or secures exclusive IP rights. Wow! Stuff also creates gifts and gadgets, which are sold under licensed brands such as Top Gear, Wallace and Gromit, Doctor Who and The Science Museum, London. The business currently employs 30 people. Some of Wow!Stuff’s most successful products include 2011 Christmas bestsellers such as the Air Swimmers, My Keepon and Flitter Fairies; and Dave the Funky Monkey, which upon launch in 2010 achieved sales of 250,000 units in 8 weeks and won Hamley’s toy of the year.
Wow! Stuff was founded by Richard North in 2006, together with Kenny McAndrew and Dr. Graeme Taylor who look after new product development. North is a serial entrepreneur who was credited by HSBC as Business Thinker of the year in 2010. Wow! Stuff was also nominated as winner of the Orange Innovation award at the National Business Awards and was included in the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 in 2010.
Wow!Stuff sought BGF’s investment to enable the company to bring new and revolutionary products to market, develop future innovations and expand into the US, where significant growth opportunities exist.