Growth Partner has completed its largest investment to date into Passenger, a leading responsible outdoor clothing brand.
The consumer-specialist investment firm, Growth Partner, which is backed by HomeServe plc Founder and Chairman Richard Harpin, has completed a £15 million investment into one of the UK’s fastest growing consumer brands, taking a significant minority stake in Passenger as it continues its journey to becoming a leading global outdoor brand.
Passenger is a responsible outdoor clothing brand which was founded by Richard and Alexa Sutcliffe in 2012. In 2022, Passenger was #2 on the UK’s Growth 100 list, with a 345% revenue CAGR over 2 years. In the last 12 months, Passenger has scaled to over £33m in sales, selling over 700,000 items. 25% of the business is now outside the UK, with 40 staff based in their New Forest HQ and a further 25 staff in their Yorkshire based distribution centre.
Whilst travelling the remote wilderness of British Columbia, Richard and Alexa found their purpose and defined their mission, to “Inspire Meaningful Escapism”. Passenger is a responsible brand, rooted in nature, connection and wellbeing. For every order they plant a tree and over 90% of the product range is made with lower impact materials like recycled cotton, recycled polyester, hemp and organic cotton. To date, Passenger has planted over 500,000 native trees and protected 28,000,000 sqm of rainforest through their charity partners, The Rainforest Trust and Trees For The Future.
Richard and Alexa were joined by founder of Surfdome, Justin Stone as Executive Chairman and Jon Lane as CEO in 2019. Passenger has since experienced exceptional growth and is on track to achieve £50m in sales this year.
As part of the transaction Steve Hewitt, former Gymshark CEO, is investing alongside Growth Partner and will become Chairman of Passenger. Growth Partner Investment Director, James Worrall, led the deal for Growth Partner and joins the board as non-executive director. Passenger will also be joined by Whanau advisory, which was founded by Steve Hewitt and includes a number of former Gymshark executives including Philip Daw, previously Gymshark CFO, who will become a strategic advisor to Passenger.
Passenger is bucking retail trends, achieving sustained triple digit growth year on year since 2019 while being profitable and continuously increasing its investment into ESG initiatives.
With Growth Partner’s investment, Richard Harpin’s strategic insight and Steve Hewitt’s expertise in scaling fast growth international D2C brands, Passenger aims to continue its rapid domestic and international growth, whilst inspiring consumers to spend more time outdoors following their passions, recharging and connecting with nature.
Richard Harpin said “Justin, Jon, Richard and the Passenger team have successfully created an agile, purpose driven brand that truly connects with its customers and is growing at exceptional pace. I’m excited to share my experience and support the outstanding leadership team as Passenger expands into new markets and continues to scale”.
Steve Hewitt, Passenger Chairman said “Passenger has been ahead of the curve with ESG and at the forefront of promoting a responsible business position with its international customer base. I’m very excited to be a part of it, working alongside Richard, Justin, Jon and the wider team at Passenger. There’s a significant opportunity to reinforce the core UK business and continue to scale the brand in key international markets.”
Jon Lane, Passenger CEO added “At Passenger we’re delighted to be partnering with Richard Harpin and Steve Hewitt, two outstanding business leaders. As we head into the next stage of our journey we’ll continue to reinforce our vision and values around being a truly responsible business.”