Clearwater advises on Ollie & Nic refinancing


The consumer team at Clearwater Corporate Finance has advised the founders of Ollie & Nic on a refinancing by a group of retail investors.

Established in 2002, Ollie & Nic is a vintage-inspired handbag and accessories brand that has grown from one store in Brighton to a chain of 11 standalone stores throughout the UK. Ollie & Nic products have also been stocked by leading high street retailers, including Harvey Nichols, Urban Outfitters, Harrods, John Lewis and Selfridges.

A period of difficult trading in the retail sector during 2010, culminating in a festive period that failed to meet expectations, resulted in the directors of Morley Trading Ltd, the holding company retailing the Ollie & Nic brand, having to appoint administrators from MCR.

Clearwater assisted the founders of Ollie & Nic in securing a rescue bid from Peter Davies, Richard Sims and Chris Inman, who previously held senior roles in Arcadia and were part of the Rubicon team that undertook a MBO of Warehouse and Principles from Arcadia in 2001.

After the sale of Rubicon to Shoe Studio in 2005, Peter, Richard and Chris have continued their involvement in retail, including the development of new retail brand Mint Velvet, an exciting new womenswear retailer that launched in 2009.

Ollie & Nic founders Nick and Jane Hill will continue to be involved in the future growth and development of the brand alongside incoming managing director, Mark Vandenberghe, who brings a wealth of experience from his former role as international director of Monsoon and Accessorize.

Clearwater’s consumer team advised on the transaction, comprising Marc Gillespie, Richard Shaw and Jackie Naghten.

Marc Gillespie, partner and head of the consumer team at Clearwater, said: “The incoming investors and management will provide an excellent platform to enable the potential of the Ollie & Nic brand to be unlocked. This rescue bid is an excellent example of how strong brands can be saved as going concerns with the right investment support.”

Nick Hill said: “Both Jane and I are confident that in Peter, Richard and Chris we have found a team who bring a wealth of retail experience in addition to financial backing. Coupled with Mark Vandenberghe’s experience of fashion accessories retail, this will enable us to substantially grow the already well recognised Ollie & Nic brand.

“The Ollie & Nic business has been built on our passion for fashion accessories and this investment brings with it a new structure which puts the business in a much stronger position to develop the many opportunities we see for this unique and exciting brand.”

Geoff Bouchier, partner of MCR, said: “Our main focus has been to ensure a satisfactory process that will maximise jobs across the store portfolio. We have been impressed with the way all parties have worked together surrounding the refinancing, and wish all new investors, management and staff the very best for the coming months as the brand continues to trade as a viable going concern.”