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Atterley launches crowdfunding campaign to grow internationally

By Danielle Wightman-Stone

28 Apr 2020

Online marketplace for independent fashion retailers, Atterley has launched a crowdfunding campaign to grow its international presence, after experienced year-on-year sales growth of 200 percent during the Covid-19 crisis.

The company, which is used by more than 250 independent boutiques and has around 2,800 brands live on the site, is looking to raise 500,000 pounds via its Crowdcube crowdfunding campaign to invest the money in refining its marketplace technology and increasing its team to create a “strong foundation” for scalable international growth.

Led by Edinburgh entrepreneur Mike Welch, who relaunched the online business in 2016, after selling his online tyre retail business to Michelin for 100 million US dollars in 2014. Atterley had previously been a multi-brand online boutique set up by former Jigsaw designer Katie Starmer-Smith, but entered into administration in 2016.

When Welch bought it he decided to relaunch it using a marketplace model, as a way to help solve the macro-environmental challenges that independent boutiques face, as it offers its boutique partners customer care, payments and logistic support.

Atterley's founder and chairman Mike Welch said in a statement: "The beauty of our business model is that instead of operating out of warehouses with stockpiles, our boutique partners provide Atterley with stock and can operate with just one person in each store ensuring safe continuous trading while their doors remain closed to the public.

“We're seeing customer growth on the back of the public wanting to support local boutiques during the pandemic and we've also seen a marked upswing in boutiques wanting to join the platform since the lockdown took hold.”

Atterley targets 500,000 pound crowdfunding investment amid coronavirus increase

Alongside the crowdfunding campaign, Atterley is also actively engaged in VC investment discussions, as it looks to raise a minimum of 500,000 pounds to support the further development of its marketplace technology for boutiques and grow its presence in overseas regions including the US, where the online marketplace has seen sales outside the UK increase to 38 percent and 15 percent in the US in 2019.

During the coronavirus crisis, Atterley has reported a strong performance with orders up 254 percent year-on-year from April 1-19.

Welch added: "The retail world will change forever post COVID-19 and retailers will be forced to adapt to fast-changing consumer buying trends. Our investment plan is focused on ensuring that Atterley and our partner boutiques are long-term winners as the market evolves. Market conditions are going to increasingly suit industry players like Atterley and we can see a situation where there is less competition when the current shakedown stabilises."

Sarah Murray, owner of designer boutique Jane Davidson in Edinburgh, said: "During the current UK lockdown, Atterley provides an additional sales channel which provides boutiques like mine with welcome stability. I also like the sense of community, being part of a collective with other independent retailers in the UK and worldwide."

Image: courtesy of Atterley of a Lorna Ruby, an Atterley boutique in Exeter, Devon