Growth Partner has completed its latest investment into Stubble & Co, one of the UK’s fastest-growing lifestyle brands.
The consumer-specialist investment firm, Growth Partner, which is backed by HomeServe Founder and Chairman Richard Harpin, has completed a multi-million-pound investment into one of the UK’s fastest-growing consumer brands, taking a significant minority stake in Stubble & Co as it continues its journey to becoming a leading global lifestyle brand.
Stubble & Co, maker of high-quality, functional and stylish bags, is bucking all retail trends, achieving sustained triple-digit growth. The business has delivered consistent profitable growth with an exceptional sales CAGR of 173% over the last 3 years, while continuously increasing its investment into ESG initiatives. The business is on track to achieve sales of £10m this year.
Stubble & Co is the brainchild of husband-and-wife founders Ben and Victoria Watkiss. Ex-Loreal, Victoria has over a decade of experience in consumer marketing, whilst Ben previously specialised in marketing and advertising risk, and supply chain consultancy. This combination of skills matched with the couple’s passion for travel enabled them to successfully turn their ‘vacation into a vocation’.
What emerged is a trailblazing Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) lifestyle brand since its inception in 2017. With an unwavering commitment to designing the highest-quality, stylish and functional bags. The company has not only carved out and owned a niche for itself with its hero ‘Roll Top’ product range, but also seized new opportunities as it broadens its range into adjacent categories with the baggage industry, such as its recent ‘Tote Bag’ launch.
The remarkable journey began with the launch of Stubble & Co’s first generation of products via Kickstarter, where they achieved an impressive milestone of selling £80,000 worth of bags within 30 days. This initial launch not only elevated the brand’s profile from nothing but also served as a litmus test for market demand and product fit, marking a resounding success and instilling confidence in the founders.
Throughout its six-year journey, Stubble & Co has maintained its independence, bootstrapping initial growth to date and eschewing external investment. The company exclusively operates through its Shopify Plus e-commerce platform, with a steadfast commitment to remaining at the forefront of software and e-commerce technology systems. The brand has consistently invested in the foundations to position itself as a global e-commerce frontrunner with aspirations of surpassing £100 million in annual sales.
From the very outset, Stubble & Co has championed sustainability as a core principle engrained in the brand’s purpose and putting people and the planet’s well-being at the forefront of its operations. In 2022, the company proudly joined the 1% for the Planet initiative, vowing to contribute 1% of its annual sales to approved environmental non-profits and earlier this year the business also became a Certified B Corporation®.
Looking ahead, Stubble & Co is poised for more exciting collaborations and partnerships with other leading brands. The company has solidified a partnership with Brentford FC, becoming their official bag partner for the current season, which coincided with the launch of Stubble & Co’s new Kit Bag.
Ben Watkiss and Victoria’s vision for Stubble & Co has transformed it into a brand that combines quality and functionality in a stylish premium product, while maintaining a steadfast commitment to using the business as a force for good. As it continues to expand its footprint in the e-commerce landscape, Stubble & Co is a shining example of a brand that not only focuses on growth but also prioritises its responsibility towards people and the planet.
Alex Marsh, Partner at Growth Partner, led the deal and was supported by Callum Harvey. Growth Partner were advised by Tom Pollard at Ward Hadaway on legals, Ben Martin at Palladium provided digital due diligence and AJ Karwa at Transaction Support Services provided modelling and financial due diligence support. Stubble & Co and its shareholders were advised by Ciaran Rooney at Roixon.
Richard Harpin said: “Ben and Victoria and the Stubble & Co team have successfully created an agile, purpose-driven brand that develops outstanding functional products which its customers love and is growing at an exceptional pace. I’m excited to share my experience and support Ben and Victoria as Stubble & Co expands into new adjacent product categories, new sales channels and international markets as it continues to scale”.
Ben & Victoria Watkiss said: “We’re exceptionally proud to have built Stubble & Co into a £10m profitable brand without outside investment, but we also believe the right partner will help us grow further and faster. As our growth continues to accelerate, now is the perfect time to bring in this major investment from Growth Partner to support the next phase of our development. The experience and network from Richard and his team are going to be invaluable as we build a globally recognisable brand.”
Alex Marsh said: “Consumers now demand so much more from brands than just ‘a good product’. Stubble & Co is a shining example of a brand that not only focuses on developing amazing products with exceptional customer service, but it has also prioritised a brand responsibility towards ‘doing the right thing’, which is a huge credit to Ben and Victoria. They are building an exciting purpose driven brand, empowering their customers to “Do. More”. We’re extremely proud and excited to be partnering with Ben & Victoria.”