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.
M SQUARED LASERS
In April 2012 BGF invested £3.85m of growth capital in Glasgow based technology business M Squared Lasers. M Squared Lasers designs and manufactures lasers and photonic optical instruments for applications in remote sensing, frontier science, bio-photonics, defence, microscopy, spectroscopy and metrology. M Squared’s laser based systems can remotely detect and image gas leaks and perform environmental monitoring; for example, identifying the extent and location of a methane leak in the oil and gas industry. Other remote sensing applications include the detection of explosives, chemicals or pollutants.
The company was founded in 2005 by Dr Graeme Malcolm and Dr Gareth Maker, who previously founded opto-electronics company Microlase in 1992 as a spinout from Strathclyde University. Microlase was acquired by a Nasdaq listed company in 2000. The former chairman of Bookham Technology, Peter Bordui, is Non-Executive Chairman.
With its head office in Scotland and an additional 3 offices across America, the company sells lasers to and collaborates with a range of blue chip partners and research institutions across Europe, North America and Asia, including Thales, Philips, Osram, Stanford University and the Max Planck Institute.
BGF invested £3.85 million in April 2012 to help fund the company’s research and development programme as well as its sales and marketing efforts. Since investment, M Squared has more than doubled revenues with rapid growth particularly in North America. As a result, at the end of 2014, BGF provided an additional £0.75m investment alongside a £2m RCF facility from Barclays Bank in order to enable M Squared to fully capitalise on the current opportunities in its target markets.
In June 2016, BGF invested a further £1.65m to support the company’s continued rapid growth.
Read about BGF’s follow-on funding here.