Clearwater helps Dwell secure £5m investment for nationwide expansion

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Clearwater’s Consumer team has advised Dwell, the contemporary furniture and home accessories retailer, on securing a £5 million equity investment from independent private equity house, Key Capital Partners (“KCP”), which will allow the Company to fund its nationwide expansion strategy.

The Company now plans to launch 33 new high street outlets over the next four years – taking its total number of UK stores to 52 by 2014.

Dwell, the UK’s fastest growing furniture retailer, creates and retails furnishings that combine aspirational design with affordable pricing, and has carved a niche targeting affluent young professionals. Originally founded as a mail-order furniture business in 2003 by entrepreneur Aamir Ahmad, the company has grown from a single store in Balham, London, into one of the UK’s most fashionable multi-channel furniture retailers.

Dwell currently has 19 stores, including its recently opened flagship location on Tottenham Court Road, London, and concessions in leading department stores, Selfridges and House of Fraser.

Total sales from the company’s high street, online and catalogue channels totalled more than £25 million in the year to 31 January 2010. During the year, the company made a significant investment in its senior management team in order to drive its four-year expansion strategy, boost operational efficiencies and enhance profitability.

Partner Marc Gillespie, led Clearwater’s consumer team on the transaction, supported by director Gareth Iley, assistant director Richard Shaw and industry adviser Jackie Naghten. Clearwater has maintained a long-standing relationship with Dwell, working with the company over a number of years to assess opportunities for expansion. Using its extensive network of private equity relationships, Clearwater identified KCP as the most appropriate investor and structured the deal for Dwell.

Gillespie said: “Dwell is a rarity in its field, in that it is a true multi-channel retailer that performs equally strongly across its high street, online and catalogue channels. As a young chain with fast growth potential, it is testament to Dwell’s leadership and unique market position that it has secured the backing of a supportive private equity investor in such a challenging financial market.”

Aamir Ahmad, founder and managing director of Dwell, said: “This capital injection from KCP represents the next milestone in Dwell’s development, having strengthened the management team last year in anticipation of both this investment and our aggressive four-year growth strategy.

“KCP will prove to be a key strategic partner as we look to boost brand awareness and expand the business, beginning with five new stores in the UK in 2011. The timing is perfect for expansion, both in terms of the life cycle of the business and conditions in the commercial property sector, where pricing is currently extremely competitive.”

The KCP team comprised partners, Owen Trotter and Andy Gregory. Trotter, who joins the board of Dwell as non-executive director, said: “The challenges facing UK retail over the last two years have been well documented, but Dwell has emerged from the turbulence in a far stronger position due to its first class management team and proven product offering.

“The business is performing strongly and we look forward to working with Aamir to expand the business significantly over the coming years, in line with its ambitions.”