Chesney’s | My 1st Years £10m | Leon £37m | Jigtalk | Tropic Skin Care £7.5m | Hurricane Energy | Genedrive | SuperAwesome
News about 8 UK growth companies and/or accelerators + turnover in the GRID marketplace, 15th - 21st January 2017:
CHESNEY’S: Grate expectations | The Sunday Times. January 15, 2017
DZ profile: Chesney's Limited
Business: Luxury fireplace maker. Sells fireplaces and wood-burning stoves through showrooms and 200 retailers in Europe and has clients such as the Dorchester hotel and Chiltern Firehouse in London.
Founder: Paul Chesney, who was briefly a solicitor before starting the business
Staff: employs 150 people in its various locations in the UK, USA and China. Richard Reynolds, Chairman is also Chairman and co-owner of the luxury bathroom retailer CP Hart.
Investment: has raised £2m from the BUSINESS GROWTH FUND to expand its product range and grow its presence in America and China. Richard Reynolds has invested alongside BGF.
MY 1ST YEARS: Boost for prince’s favourite | Kiki Loizou, The Sunday Times.
DZ profile: Infinity Reliance Limited
Business: sells personalised clothing and gifts for newborns and toddlers. Sells via John Lewis, Selfridges and Harrods as well as its own website.
Location: Stanmore, northwest London
Founders: Daniel Price, 29 and Jonny Sitton
Financials: the company is expected to produce revenues of £10m this year
Investment: has raised £5m of investment cash for expansion from venture capital firm BERINGEA (backer of jewellery maker Monica Vinader) and fund manager HARGREAVE HALE and will be used to expand in America. The business previously secured £2m in funding from high net worth individuals, including Lord David Alliance, co-founder of Coats Viyella and co-owner of N Brown Group.
News: Last year, sales soared after George was photographed in a My 1st Years dressing gown when meeting Obama before bedtime at Kensington Palace.
LEON: Enter the quinoa, served up by the Bruce Lee of fast food | Peter Evans, The Sunday Times.
DZ profile: Leon Restaurants Limited
Business: rapidly expanding purveyor of fast food
Location: Borough, near London Bridge. 43 restaurants, mainly in the capital and southeast England. Outside London: Brighton, Oxford and Cambridge. There are plans to open in Manchester by the end of the year and there is an outlet at Birmingham New Street station.
Founders: John Vincent, 45, chief executive; Henry Dimbleby, son of Question Time’s David; the chef Allegra McEvedy, now a staple of TV cookery shows.
Financials: In 2015, sales grew 48% to £37m and are expected to have risen sharply again in the past 12 months.
Investment: Investors include the private equity firm ACTIVE as well as Vincent and Dimbleby family members. The TV personality Alexander Armstrong and sports presenter Gabby Logan are also shareholders.
1. will soon open a kwoon, or martial arts academy, in Soho, central London, where its 850 workers will be able to take lessons to improve their well-being.
2. will open in Washington DC by the autumn. Funding for Leon’s early US expansion is most likely to come from “the existing balance sheet”, Vincent says.
3. Leon pressing concerns: rising business rates, food price inflation and Brexit- related economic uncertainty could make this year bleak for many restaurant chains. Among Vincent’s biggest worries is freedom of movement after Britain leaves the EU. Leon has seen a 20% drop in job applications from workers from the Continent since the vote.
Leon to expand into US after cash injection | Clare Hutchison, The Evening Standard. May 19
4. … is cooking up an expansion into the US after receiving a £25 million investment from Swiss private equity firm SPICE. ….will open two restaurants in Washington DC in the next year after the cash injection, which gives Spice a “significant” minority stake.
Growing Leon | Peter Evans, The Sunday Times. September 24 2017
5. ... saw sales increase 58% to £58.4m last year as it stepped up its expansion outside of London.However, the spate of new openings came at a cost as the company swung to a pretax loss of £321,584 in the year to December 25 from a profit of £358,793 in the previous 12 months. Leon now has 2 restaurants in the Netherlands. Chief executive John Vincent said he had been forced to invest abroad amid tough conditions for restaurant companies such as rising business rates and uncertainty surrounding Brexit. A high proportion of Leon’s staff are from overseas.
Entrepreneurs outside the capital can rely on each other in hard times | Kiki Loizou, The Sunday Times
DZ profile: Jigtalk App Limited
Business: developing a dating app. To encourage users to start conversations rather than judge someone instantly by their looks, it shows a photo covered in jigsaw pieces. The face is gradually revealed as messages are exchanged.
Founders: Alex Durrant, 22, who founded the venture with Max Adamski, 23
Investment: has so far raised £160,000 from angel investors in the UK and America
TROPIC: Fired up by Sugar to make organic skincare a success | Laura Onita, The Sunday Times. January 15, 2017
DZ profile: Tropic Skin Care Limited
Business: vegan skincare brand. Organic creams and soaps are made in-house, as well as most of its make-up. Natural ingredients such as Kakadu plum extract and cupuacu butter are sourced from Australia and the Amazon rainforest. The products — from a £22 day cream to a £42 serum for a “more youthful-looking complexion” — are sold door to door by 5,000 “ambassadors”, in the same way as the famous Avon brand. The ambassadors pay £120 for training, a catalogue and a starter supply of goods. “They can earn up to 40% commission,” said Ma
Location: Croydon, south London
Founder: Susan Ma, 28.
Financials: The company reported pre-tax profits of £1.5m on sales of £7.5m last year. Revenues are expected to climb to £12m this year.
Investment: Lord Sugar £200,000 for 50%
1. Born in Shanghai, lived in Australia and moved to Purley, south London, as a child. Ma set up Tropic when she was just 15, with £100 borrowed from her mother. She followed a family recipe to concoct a body scrub, which she sold in jam jars at Greenwich market, southeast London. She blended sea salt, patchouli and eucalyptus oils and macadamia extract. At the end of her first day at the market, she had sold her entire stock for £980.
2. After graduating in 2010, she joined Citigroup as a trainee on the foreign exchange trading floor. She left Citi and used £10,000 of savings to restart Tropic. However, her entrepreneurial venture came to a halt
3. In 2011 she got her chance to appear on The Apprentice. After firing her in the final round of the reality series in 2011, the tycoon Lord Sugar pumped £200,000 into Ma’s business in return for a 50% stake. …his backing supercharged the business. Thanks to Sugar’s investment, Ma was able to rent a small office and move production from her kitchen table to a factory. She goes to his offices in Loughton, Essex, once a month.
You’re fired up! Apprentice loser Susie Ma's glowing sales | Liam Kelly, The Sunday Times. March 31 2019
4. …is toasting record sales and profits. Sales rose to £22.7m in the year to last June, up from £12.7m the year before. Pre-tax profits increased 68% to £5.1m.
HURRICANE ENERGY: hopes to prove a new force in North Sea oil | Andrew Ward, FT. January 17
DZ profile: Hurricane Energy Plc
Business: Oil exploration company
Location: Godalming, Surrey
Founder: CEO Robert Trice, 56. He spent 11 years with Enterprise Oil, the UK independent oil company, and two with Royal Dutch Shell after it bought Enterprise in 2002.
Investment: James Huddlestone. Further fundraising from other wealthy individuals allowed Hurricane to secure licences on the frontier between the North Sea and the Atlantic, close to BP’s large Clair and Schiehallion fields. Promising initial drilling led to a listing on London’s junior Aim market in 2014. Cash injection from KEROGEN, the private equity company
1. due to begin drilling over the weekend its third prospect in the past six months in an area west of the Shetland Islands that has already revealed an estimated 500m barrels of oil. Some analysts believe the figure could top 1bn if the latest well is successful - what could turn out to be the biggest oil discovery in the North Sea this century.
2. “do or die” drilling campaign last summer … produced more evidence of oil in the company’s flagship Lancaster prospect, and, for the first time, in its adjacent Lincoln field. Mr Trice is hoping to complete a hat-trick with the Halifax well about to be drilled.
3. Hurricane is aiming to raise $400m by the summer to begin developing Lancaster, with an aim to start production in 2019. Selling a stake in the project to a larger partner is an option, says Mr Trice; two global majors and one large independent explorer have expressed interest.
GENEDRIVE: scores US army coup with DNA-testing deal | Andy Bounds, FT. January 17.
DZ profile: Genedrive Plc
Business: DNA-testing equipment. The Genedrive is the size of a thick paperback and weighs 1kg. The user collects a sample and puts it on a cartridge containing reagents that they insert into the machine. Within an hour, it can detect whether one of 10 biological agents is present. The machine sells for up to $5,000 but the company makes most of its money on replacement cartridges and tests. Has developed a portable DNA-based test that it says can give accurate results within two hours. Changed its name from Epistem last year.
Staff: David Budd, Canadian, chief executive
Financials: Turnover in the 12 months to June 2016 increased 12% to £5.4m of which £1.9m was development income, with a loss of £5.4m
Investment: listed on Aim
1. Deal with the US Department of Defense, providing with millions of pounds of kit to test for biological warfare agents. Has now begun field trials of DNA analysis equipment from Genedrive. The $7.8m programme began in 2015.
2. Genedrive is already being used to test for cases of tuberculosis in India. Hepatitis C and other infectious disease tests are under development. It is also being developed to test for disease in shrimps and other animals in commercial fisheries.
3. Is at the centre of a burgeoning medical equipment and health technology cluster in north-west England. Mr Budd said being based in north-west England had kept costs low. “We have spent less than £10m on development.”
SUPERAWESOME: London tech startup is considering an IPO | Lynsey Barber, City A.M. January 18
DZ profile: Superawesome Limited
Business: tech startup specialising in helping brands such as Lego, Mattel, and Peppa Pig maker eOne comply with rules on advertising to kids online. Rules in the US and EU mean advertisers are not allowed to capture data from users under the age of 13. SuperAwesome believes there is huge potential in the niche but fast growing area as kids shun TV for online entertainment.
Location: headquarters in Covent Garden, London
Founder: serial entrepreneur and chief executive Dylan Collins, who previously sold his startup Jolt Online Gaming to US video game retailer Gamestop and software firm DemonWare to Activision.
Staff: employs 80 people globally
Investment: 2015 raises $7 million in Series A round led by TWENTY TEN CAPITAL, with contributions from IBIS TMT, SANDBOX & CO. and existing investor HOXTON VENTURES (where founder Dylan Collins is also a Venture Partner).
News: SuperAwesome is exploring a potential listing on the London Stock Exchange this year, has engaged with several City institutions at the early stages of exploring going public, but has not appointed an adviser. It could also consider a further round of funding from investors, or pursue both options. A source close to the company, which cuts across the adtech and regtech sectors, suggested a float could value the company at as much as £200m.