Mike Welch secures multi-million dollar investment for Atterley.com

Mike Welch Atterley Founder Chairman and Sarah Murray owner of Jane Davidson boutique Edinburgh
Mike Welch Atterley Founder Chairman and Sarah Murray owner of Jane Davidson boutique Edinburgh

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Online fashion retailer Atterley.com, which was launched in 2016 by entrepreneur Mike Welch, has secured a multi-million dollar investment from PDS Multinational Group, a global design house and clothing manufacturer dual-headquartered in Hong Kong and London.

The funding round comes in the wake of an explosion of activity in the online fashion sector, including last week’s $8 billion plus Farfetch IPO on the New York Stock Exchange.

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Welch sold Blackcircles.com, the online tyre retail business he founded in 2003, to Michelin in 2014.

With a similar model to Farfetch, the Atterley site enables independent fashion boutiques and brands to list and sell their inventories (both womenswear and menswear), has over 100 boutiques on its platform and is currently selling to over 80 countries with the US emerging as its fastest-growing market.  Atterley, which promotes items for boutique owners and manages customer acquisition and customer care, recently launched image search AI technology that allows online shoppers to search for items by uploading photos.

While the majority of the boutiques on the Atterley site are UK-based, the team has on boarded a number of Italian and German independents in 2017 and is set to continue its international expansion over the next twelve months.  Atterley opened a Singapore office in 2017 – it also has offices in Edinburgh, London and Milan – headed up by Debra Langley, a former President of DKNY JEANS International.

Atterley Founder and Chairman Mike Welch said: “We have spoken to a wide range of potential funders over the last six months, including private equity firms and industry players, but PDS really stood out in terms of the strategic fit, our vision for the business and the development of an Atterley own brand.”

“We are not going down the road of what I would describe as ‘spraying and praying’ with investors’ money, but we will be learning from those who have gone before and fully expect to prove our model in financial terms sooner rather than later.  If there is a value precedent being set in the market then we wouldn’t rule out a float of our own, all options remain open to us and we own enough of our equity to determine our destiny.”

PDS manages international supply chains and produces around 1 million garments every day for over 200 major brands and retailers worldwide, including Topshop, Zara, Jack Wills and Urban Outfitters.  The group operates a global network of 50 offices in 18 countries with over 2,800 people across Europe, North America, the Middle East and Asia, a network Atterley will leverage to expedite its international expansion.  PDS owns and operates its own manufacturing plants in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India and is set to report annual sales of around $1.2 billion in the current financial year.

PDS Founder and CEO, Pallak Seth, said: “This is a natural move for PDS as online becomes an increasingly important channel for our industry in providing insights into customer tastes and trends.  It is important that PDS is able to develop insights from data and first hand experience in online business will ensure we remain at the cutting edge of fashion and are able to provide market intelligence to our retail customers.  We share a lot of the same business principles as the Atterley management team and we’re looking forward to helping them in their pursuit of their strategic objectives.”

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