COMPANIES: IQE to Zebra Fuel

Published by Directorzone Markets Ltd on February 12, 2018, 9:00 am in News, Other


Wednesday January 1st 2020

IMAGE: courtesy of Pixabay on Pexels / Black and White Zebra Patternt


Charities platform - Furniture retailer

- Semiconductors - Bar chain -

Fuel delivery


Lightful | Willow & Hall £7.5m | IQE £132.7m | Simmons Bars | Zebra Fuel


News about 5 UK growth companies and/or accelerators + turnover in the GRID marketplace 4th - 10th February 2018:



LIGHTFUL: charities platform - London

Big names back charity app | The Sunday Times. February 4, 2018

DZ profile: Lightful Ltd

Business: start-up that offers a social media management tool for small charities, which has signed up more than 1,800 good causes, hopes to “reclaim social media for good” after fake news and abuse scandals. It also offers bespoke technology services. The free platform puts a charity’s social media accounts, such as Twitter and Facebook, onto a single dashboard to make it easier to manage content.

Launched: 2014

Location: Tower Hamlets, London

Founders: Vinay Nair, CEO; Johnny Murnane, COO; Carlos Miranda, Chairman.

Investment: has raised £4m from backers including the Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason and former IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti.

News: will be used to launch a full-service digital consultancy, LIGHTFUL SERVICES, to improve innovation in the sector and build bespoke technology solutions, and operate alongside the company’s core platform. The funding will also be invested in Lightful’s research and development division, LIGHTFUL LABS, which is currently trialling experiential technology spanning artificial intelligence, machine learning, bots and voice recognition.



WILLOW & HALL: furniture retailer - Twickenham

Sarah Massouh, Willow & Hall: turned out I was cut from the right cloth | Liam Kelly, The Sunday Times. February 4, 2018

DZ profile: Willow and Hall Ltd

Business: a furniture retailer. Having started with 12 ranges, today it has dozens and has branched out to make products such as footstools and storage boxes. Willow & Hall offers customers the chance to tweak the designs of their furniture. They can choose their own upholstery, texture and patterns on any items. One of Massouh’s signature pieces is a “bed in a box” — an ottoman that folds out into a single bed.

Launched: 2012

Location: Twickenham

Founder: Using £12,500 of her savings, Sarah Massouh, 35, left her job as a strategy consultant in 2012 to start Willow and Hall. ….started her working life by joining the Deloitte graduate scheme after an economics degree at Birmingham University. It took her six months to design the first range of sofas, sofabeds, armchairs and mattresses — as well as finding the right manufacturer and setting up the website. At first, she did everything alone. “I built up the whole strategy in a little room in my old house,” she said. In the first year she worked seven days a week and turned over more than £1m. All profits were ploughed back into Willow & Hall to fuel growth. Massouh still designs all Willow & Hall’s furniture.

Staff: 35

Financials: Last year the business made a pre-tax profit of £524,000 on sales of £7.5m.

Investment: has never taken outside funding. She owns 51% of the business; her husband, Alex, holds the balance.


1. Its growth earned it a spot on the latest Sunday Times Fast Track 100 list of Britain’s fastest-growing private companies.

2. Most of Willow & Hall’s sales are online, but it opened its first showroom in Chiswick, west London, in the summer of 2015. Massouh moved out of her front room and into offices only when the business was turning over £5m. Has opened a new base in Twickenham, southwest London.



IQE: semiconductors - Cardiff

No techs, please, we’re skittish | John Collingridge, The Sunday Times. February 4, 2018

DZ profile: IQE Plc

Business: semiconductor firm

Launched: 1988

Location: Cardiff

Financials: made adjusted profits of £22.1m on £132.7m revenues in 2016

Investment: floated on AIM in 2003


1. meandered along at a middling pace …until last year, that is, when speculation about its silicon wafers finding their way into the next-generation iPhone sent the shares soaring. Companies are generally discouraged from confirming they supply APPLE, but IQE did little to quell the rumour. Between January and November the shares almost quintupled and IQE’s valuation climbed to almost £1.4bn.  That meteoric rise caught the eye of short-sellers, whose interest has leapt in the past six months on fears that sales of Apple’s iPhone X will disappoint — and deflate IQE’s bubble.

2. IQE has raised eyebrows before, through a strange deal in 2014 when its chief executive, Drew Nelson, used a share pledging facility to borrow £1.9m in cash. He bought back the shares for a huge gain last September.

3. On Friday a little-known short-selling outfit SHADOWFALL CAPITAL AND RESEARCH published a note claiming IQE appears reliant on two joint ventures — one in Cardiff, another in Singapore — for a substantial chunk of its profits: 42% in 2015 and 30% in 2016. Yet ShadowFall said IQE’s relationship with these joint ventures is a “somewhat circular state of affairs” — their only customer appears to be IQE itself. ShadowFall pointed out that losses have been piling up at the joint ventures. This might create a convenient situation “where IQE books the profits and the joint ventures retain the losses”, it wrote. Without the cash from these offshoots, IQE would have reported negative cashflow in 2016. The attack added to a recent sell-off in IQE shares, which fell 3.3% to 104.4p, valuing it at £788m. Earl has pedigree. He called out social housing company Connaught before its collapse, and persistently criticised Mitie before its 2016 and 2017 profit warnings. His warning on IQE is worth heeding.



SIMMONS BARS: Bar chain - London

Simmons Bars set for big expansion after £10m stake sale | Joanna Bourke, The Evening Standard. February 5, 2018

DZ profile: Nightlight Leisure Ltd (Simmons Bars)

Business: London bar chain with 12 sites in the capital, including King’s Cross, Soho and Temple. The colourful bars are renowned for their five-hour happy hours — featuring £2.50 gin and tonics — and collection of vintage games consoles. Simmons is a group of London based bars offering a variety of cocktails and other beverages via its extended happy hour proposition. Appealing primarily to 18-27-year-old young professionals and students, Simmons is best known for its laid-back house party atmosphere and good value drinks. Simmons began as a single bar in King’s Cross in 2012, at acquisition, it had 12 bars across central London.

Launched: 2015

Location: London

Founder: Nick Campbell, 30

Investment: has sold a majority stake in Simmons Bars to private equity firm LONSDALE CAPITAL PARTNERS for around £10m.


1. The new investment will aid plans to grow the chain to 30 UK venues by the end of 2020. It is eyeing openings in Bank, Covent Garden and Shoreditch.

2. Roy Ellis, the founder of REVOLUTION BARS, will join as chairman and help to oversee the growth plans.

3. Challenger bank OAKNORTH provided Lonsdale with the finance to fund the acquisition.



ZEBRA FUEL: Fuel delivery - London

Fuel-on-demand start-up Zebra Fuel raises cash for expansion | Angela Jameson, The Evening Standard. February 5, 2018

DZ profile: Zebra Fuel Ltd

Business: A start-up will deliver fuel on demand to London car owners, so drivers need never have to go to the petrol station again. Zebra delivers diesel from its own fleet of vans to car owners in Zones 1 to 4. They don’t need to be there — they can leave the fuel cap off. The business, which already has 1000 customers, will also launch in Paris in September.

Launched: 2016

Location: Putney

Founders: Reda Bennis and Romain Saint Guilhem

Investment: backed by tech big-hitters - has raised $2.5 million (£1.8 million) from Zoopla founder Alex Chesterman, founder Brent Hoberman and Lovefilm founder Saul Klein’s venture capital fund LOCALGLOBE.