COMPANIES: Musto to The Works

Published by Directorzone Markets Ltd on May 30, 2017, 9:00 am in News, Other


Thursday February 14th 2019


Thursday February 14th 2019




The Works £154.4m | Sungodb£2.5m | Buy Me Once | Positively Human | Luscombe Drinks £4.2m | Musto £35m | Inventid | Private White VC £4m | LightwaveRF £2m | appScatter | Quiqup | Neos


* OFF-GRID: CarTrawler €620m


News about 12 UK growth companies and/or accelerators + turnover in the GRID marketplace 21st – 27th May 2017:


THE WORKS: Artshop chain draws up listing | Oliver Shah and Daniel Dunkley, The Sunday Times. May 21.
DZ profile: The Works Stores Limited
Business: discount retailer of art materials and books, which sells items such as packs of 15 colouring pencils for £1, has expanded from 226 stores since 2008. “One of the UK’s leading multi-channel specialist retailers of value gifts, arts, crafts, toys, books and stationery” - sell more than 40,000 different products to over 22.5 million people each year through 450+ stores and online
Launched: 2008
Location: Birmingham
Staff:  3000+. Appointed Dean Hoyle, CARD FACTORY founder and Huddersfield Town FC owner, as chairman in 2015.
Financials: Sales rose 9% to £154.4m in the 12 months to May last year. Underlying earnings grew 37% to £12.7m.
Investment: private equity owner ENDLESS bought The Works out of administration in 2008
News: Endless has hired the bank Investec to begin preparing a listing or sale for next year.


Chiefs at The Works set for a £36 million bonanza after its float | Laura Onita, The Evening Standard. 13 July 2018
1.  chief executive Kevin Keaney, financial chief Gavin Peck, an ex-commercial director at Card Factory
2. pre-tax profits of £2.6m on sales of £192m for the year to April 30 2018
3.  after The Works lists on AIM, the owner, private equity firm ENDLESS, will retain a 9.8% stake and management 24.9%



* CARTRAWLER: Founders miss out on bonanza | Daniel Dunkley, The Sunday Times
DZ profile: Etrawler Unlimited Company
Business: online car hire business. It’s software helps customers access rental operators including Hertz, while it also has its own customer comparison site, Holiday Autos. The software developer makes most of its money from partnerships with more than 80 airlines and 2,000 travel retailers.
Launched: 1983
Location: Dublin
Founders: Irish brothers Greg and Niall Turley
Staff: 550 people in Dublin, London, Boston and Helsinki
Financials: According to estimates from the Irish Times, the company’s turnover rose to €620m last year, from €605m the year before.
Investment: 2014 - sold their final stake in the business to private equity backers BC PARTNERS alongside INSIGHT VENTURE PARTNERS, the New York venture capital firm, in a deal worth €400m (£345m). The Turleys are reported to have sold 75% of the company to ECI PARTNERS for just €80m in 2011.
News: is set to be sold by BC Partners for £600m. The founders of CarTrawler are set to miss out on a huge rise in its value. …BC was likely to weigh up a stock market float alongside a sale. American investment giants including Advent International and KKR have previously run the rule over the business and are likely to show interest in any sale. Insight, an early backer of Twitter, Tumblr and Chinese giant Alibaba, is expected to cash out. A potential deal would bring a windfall for management, who are said to hold a small stake in the firm.

Break our sunglasses? We guarantee you won’t | Laura Onita, The Sunday Times


DZ profile: Sungod Ltd
Business: sunglasses and ski goggles range. SunGod sunglasses are designed not to break. Made of flexible plastic, they are built to last a lifetime. And if they don’t, the founders will replace or fix them free of charge; most of their products come with a no-quibble guarantee. So far only 1.5% of their products have been returned for “rehabilitation” or replacement. They have been selling about 35,000 pairs a year through their website and Classics² sunglasses cost £60, while the Revolts goggles are £95.
Launched: 2013
Location: Putney, southwest London
Founders: Zoe Armstrong, 30, a former account manager at cosmetics giant L’Oréal, and Ali Watkiss, 29-year-old former building projects manager.
Financials: are aiming for revenues of £2.5m this year.
News: Watkiss suggested that they up the ante by offering a lifetime guarantee …Four years on, the gamble is paying off. Not only did the guarantee show that they were willing to stake their reputation on the durability of their products, but it has been one of their biggest selling points. Armstrong said the cost of replacing sunglasses, or repairing an arm or a hinge, was low — precisely because they are so difficult to break. “If someone thinks, ‘You know what — while they repair my sunglasses, I’m going to get a new set of lenses’, it adds greater value than it takes away,” she said.

DZ profile: Buymeonce Limited
Business: online blog-cum-shop which sells only long-lasting products, from clothing and shoes to cutlery and toys. More than 1,000 items are featured on her site and she plans to grow by a further 1,000 in the next few months, all backed by a lifetime guarantee or similar. In January alone, the site attracted 700,000 visitors and numbers have been up since. Customers can also get SunGod accessories via the site. Blume soon to be listed. Button does not sell the items directly via Buy Me Once, but receives a 7% commission if customers make a purchase.
Launched: 2016
Location: tech City, London EC1
Founder: former advertising executive Tara Button, 35.
News: She plans to cut out the middle man to secure a bigger margin — but not for personal gain. She would use the profits to launch a campaign to challenge manufacturers to certify how long their products will last — “so when you go into a shop and you see 10 kettles, there’s some kind of meaningful marking”.

DZ profile: Positively Human Limited
Business: Since 2015 his invention, a battery-free safety light for runners that is powered by movement, has been sold to more than 20,000 customers in 15 countries.
Launched: 2015
Location: Malmesbury
Founder: Tom Lawton, 41
Investment: raised £50,000 on the crowdfunding platform KICKSTARTER in 2015
News: Its selling point, however, could easily prove to be its demise. Despite winning an industry award for “the best accessory” and gaining sales through word of mouth, big retailers will not stock it. “We’re a slightly premium product in a very sexy area, and it’s not loved enough,” said Lawton. “It’s easier to do business as usual and sell a cheaper product that has a better [profit] margin.”


LUSCOMBE DRINKS: Fruits of the world are essence of my success | Laura Onita, The Sunday Times
DZ profile: Luscombe Drinks Limited
Business: range of 26 organic soft drinks, ginger beers, tonic waters and cider. Set up Luscombe Drinks in to offer an alternative for those who prefer not to drink alcohol. Luscombe’s products are made, bottled and packaged in the Devon market town of Buckfastleigh, famous for its abbey’s strong tonic wine. David’s lemons come from Italy, the ginger from Peru, the pears are picked in the south of France and the apricots are from Spain. Its drinks— such as Lime Crush and Passionate Ginger Beer — have won 58 Great Taste Awards from the Guild of Fine Food so far, and are sold in more than 3,500 independent shops. John Lewis is its biggest customer.
Exports: Exports account for 10% of revenues and it sells as far afield as South Korea and Australia.
Launched: 1987
Location: Buckfastleigh, Devon
Founder: Gabriel David, 51. He borrowed £10,000 from his father to start a used- cars magazine in Oxford in 1987. It flopped, so he spent the next six years making cider with his father at the farm and selling it locally. Four years later — after moving to Sicily to open an art gallery, which he had to wind down — David returned to the farm with a twist on the drinks he had been making before. He used old machinery to make apple juice from scratch and then started to add flavours such as ginger and elderflower. He delivered his fruit crushes and juices to cafes, pubs and restaurants in London and Devon. The deal with John Lewis in the early 2000s allowed David to take on staff and buy a filling machine for £60,000 to boost production.
Staff: 53
Financials: Last year Luscombe posted pre-tax profits of £300,000 on sales of £4.2m.
Investment: He and his wife Venetia, 43, are majority shareholders and the rest is split between the family.

MUSTO: hoists for sale flag | Daniel Dunkley, The Sunday Times
DZ profile: Musto Limited
Business: retailer which makes high-end sailing clothes – is a supplier to the British Olympic sailing team - and equestrian gear. Musto holds two royal warrants by appointment to the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. The Duchess of Cambridge is also a fan. On a 2014 royal tour of New Zealand, she wore a Musto jacket, sparking a sales frenzy that crashed the company’s website.
Launched: 1971
Location: based in St Katharine Docks next to Tower Bridge in London
Financials: is expected to deliver sales of £35m this year
Investment: the initial investment in 2007 of majority owner, PHOENIX EQUITY PARTNERS - an investment firm that also owns retailer LK Bennett - gave the company a value of £40m.
News: Phoenix has hired advisers at FINANCO to find suitors for the company. The retailer
could fetch more than £50m if a bidding war breaks out. American buyout firms and luxury retailers are expected to show an interest.

INVENTID: UK designers produce world’s cheapest solar lamp | Andy Bounds, FT. May 22
DZ profile: Inventid - Innovation And Design Limited
Business: strategic design consultancy. The hand-sized SM100, which claims to be the cheapest solar light in the worldcan run for eight hours when fully charged and is twice as bright as kerosene. The light is rectangular like a solar panel — rather than round — to reduce component costs. It has a stand so it can be used as a study light or hung in a room and straps so it can be used as a head torch. The light can be bought online for £10 in the UK, with extra profits going to SolarAid.
Launched: 2012
Location: Manchester
Founders: Henry James and Bryn Morgan, met on a design degree at Leeds University and set up their company in 2012
1. Inventid has helped a Chinese solar power giant provide cheap, clean power across Africa with a $5 light. Some 600m people in African countries without electricity rely on kerosene storm lamps, which are expensive to run and produce smoke that is linked to respiratory diseases, cataracts and house fires. SOLARAID,a charity, developed it in collaboration with YINGLI, the solar panel manufacturer. SolarAid’s trading subsidiary SunnyMoney has sold 1.9m other solar lights in Africa over the past decade but they retail for up to twice the price of the new light. After trialling 9,000 of the lights in three countries, the new light is now on sale.
2. The SM100 is an exemplar product for the new £83m Design Museum’s Design Ventura education programme. In March, the SM100 light won silver in the 2017 Design for Society and Design for Sustainability categories at the European Product Design Awards.
Jeremy Leggett. I'm the founder and chair of SolarAid. The reason is relationships. Solarcentury, the company I founded that gives 5% of its profits to SolarAid each year, sources most of its solar cell and module products in China, as does the rest of the global solar industry. Yingli, one of our suppliers out there, loves what we are doing at SolarAid, and the rest became history, as it were.

PRIVATE WHITE VC: How a start-up saved a struggling Salford textile factory | John Gapper, FT. May 18
DZ profile: Private White Vc Limited
Business: luxury brand casualwear clothing business. Coats selling for £650 are made from Ventile fabric, a close-woven water-resistant cotton invented at a local research centre. 100-year-old factory, a store at the factory and one shop in Mayfair.
Launched: 2010
Location: Salford
Staff: has about 90 employees in its factory, 30 of whom are British while the other 60 come from EU countries such as Spain and the Czech Republic. Nick Ashley, son of Laura Ashley, is the brand’s chief designer.
Financials: anticipates sales of £4m in the year to September, with £1.2m of those made online. He also expects to turn a profit for the first time next year.
Investment: Owner - James Eden, 33, worked in the City after studying finance at Cambridge university.
1. Mr Eden is the great-grandson of the eponymous Jack White, a former cloth cutter at the factory. Private White was awarded the Victoria Cross in 1917, the highest award in the UK honours system, for saving fellow soldiers fighting in Mesopotamia. He later became the factory’s manager and owner.
2. Sales are rising and he has plans to expand capacity in Salford — walls are being torn down and new machines ordered to make it possible.


LIGHTWAVERF: Shares have risen following partnerships with Google and Amazon | Kate Burgess, FT. May 21.
DZ profile: Lightwaverf Plc
Business: LightwaveRF (RF stands for radio frequency) makes the devices that transform dumb thermostats into smart ones and enable householders to control lights by flicking an app rather than a switch. Has been in the thick of the IoT sector for a decade and its sales of plugs, sockets and appliances are improving.
Launched: 2008
Location: Birmingham
Staff: Andrew Pearson, chief executive
Financials: Last week the company said revenues in the six months to March had risen nearly 50 per cent to £1.2m. But pre-tax losses were £333,000.
Investment: joined the Alternative Investment Market as JSJS Designs in 2008, valued at £4m. It has raised more than £7m since listing — mostly from rich enthusiasts — but is still worth just £6m.
1. Last week, LightwaveRF’s shares rose 40 per cent when it announced a partnership with Google Home and Google Assistant. It signed a similar tie-up with Amazon’s Alexa in November. Already 5,000 or so of LightwaveRF’s customers are Alexa groupies.
2. has just 44,000 British customers out of 15m homes in the UK. ….rivalry from the likes of Hive, developed by British Gas to connect householders to their heating remotely, and Netatmo from France is increasing. The way for LightwaveRF to keep ahead is to sell a better range of smart gadgets in higher volumes, says Mr Pearson. “… to grow quickly now”. That may mean acquisitions. It almost certainly means more fundraising.

APPSCATTER: Mobile apps start-up goes for AIM float | Jamie Nimmo, The Evening Standard. May 22
DZ profile: Appscatter Limited
Business: manages mobile apps in more than 300 app stores. The company has been developing its app management software for two years but only officially launched it a few weeks ago. Most app firms help companies manage their apps on the Apple’s App Store and Google Play, but appScatter offers management and analytics in other huge markets such as China. The start-up has just 3000 users but hopes to have one million in three years.
Launched: 2015
Location: London
Founders: Philip Marcella, Chief executive, who previously ran former AIM-listed software firm RMR; Jeff Stone, Director, Strategic Business Development
Staff: Clive Carver, Chairman, is Seymour Pierce’s former corporate finance boss, a serial director of AIM companies.
Investment: £5 million private funding round last year from high-profile backers who include Deutsche Bank’s chief financial officer Marcus Schenck and Giuseppe Vita, the chairman of UniCredit, Italy’s biggest bank.
News: AppScatter is in early-stage talks with advisers about raising money on AIM the junior stock market.


QUIQUP: a London startup powering Burger King and Whole Foods delivery, has landed £20m | Lynsey Barber, City A.M. May 24
DZ profile: Quiqup Limited
Business: an on-demand startup which works with Burger King and Whole Foods. It said it was growing at a rate of 170 per cent a year and has delivered over half a million orders to date.
Launched: 2014
Location: London NW10
Founder: chief executive and co-founder Bassel El Koussa
Staff: will add around 20 new staff to its current 110, in areas such as operations and engineering, including machine learning and artificial intelligence experts.It will also look for more people to deliver by bike, scooter and car - known as Quiquees - as it grows. It has more than 2,000 delivering across London.
Investment: Quiqup has landed fresh funding to expand beyond London and improve the technology behind its logistics platform. The £20m series B round was led by JOBI CAPITAL, a newly established New York-based firm, along with TRANSMED a distributor of FMCG brands across Africa and the Middle East and previous investors. Previous backers include DELIVERY HERO, the current owner of Hungry House and Global Founders Capital. JOBI Capital managing director Bilal Mekkaoui will join the Quiqup board.
1. The startup inked a deal earlier this year to provide takeaways using HUNGRY HOUSE with access to delivery drivers when they experience higher demand. It also powers the home delivery services of Burger King and Whole Foods, as well as many independent retailers.
2. It pays a fixed hourly rate and above minimum wage as it does not stick to a single sector bringing a more reliable pattern of demand.

NEOS: Aviva just backed insurance focused fintech startup and will probably acquire one soon, says CEO Mark Wilson | Lynsey Barber, City A.M. May 25
DZ profile: Neos Ventures Limited
Business: home insurance product that offers customers insurance premiums along with cameras and other sensor technology around the home which can detect things like break-ins or leaks, with incident alerts sent directly to your phone. Distribution partnership with Zoopla and Hiscox.
Launched: 2016
Location: London
Founder: co-founder and chief executive Matt Poll, who was previously a director at MoreThan.
Investment: AVIVA VENTURES has led a £5m series A funding round in Neos. MUNICH RE will provide underwriting. The company said the fresh cash will help it expand into the mainstream and Aviva will also gain access to the startup's Internet of Things (IoT) platform.
1. Aviva Ventures has previously invested in two other smarthome companies: Leeds-based connected home camera and sensor maker COCOON and online property startup OPUN.
2. Aviva's efforts to adopt digital technology in the traditional world of insurance are taking place in Hoxton Square, where it houses around 250 designers, data scientists and other digital technology experts working on creating new products and services for customers. The so-called "digital garage" was set up at the start of 2016 as a consciously separate part of the business. Aviva plans to grow the number working on digital to around 600 or 700 by the end of the year, said chief executive Mark Wilson. He also revealed the insurer is spending at least £100m a year operationally on this new part of the business but more is being spent in terms of digital infrastructure in the wider business.
3. He said the UK's largest insurer would consider "smaller tactical" acquisitions in the tech space in addition to investments such as Neos, as well as partnerships. Aviva earlier this year signed a deal with Chinese internet giant Tencent to sell its products online in Hong Kong.
4. A new feature currently being tested is a virtual vault where people can take pictures of valuables and their receipt to check if their item is covered. It uses image recognition technology to reduce the hassle for users of filing in information. It plans to roll it out on the MyAviva app later this year.Areas of interest for the company are big data, artificial intelligence, robotics, digital health, cyber security and automated cars.