North West Business Briefs: Exchange Chambers; RevGlue; KOMI Group; Tosca Debt Capital; Blackpool Airport

Louis Brown

A team of barristers from Exchange Chambers has been appointed to assist Sir Brian Leveson in providing independent oversight of Manchester online fashion retailer Boohoo’s Agenda for Change programme.

The scheme focuses on the company’s supply chain and its business practices and was created after the firm was linked last Summer with Leicester ‘sweat shops’ paying just £3.50p per hour to make cheap clothing during the coronavirus pandemic, leading to Home Secretary Priti Patel ordering a probe into the allegations which wiped billions of pounds off the group’s value.

The Exchange Chambers team is headed by Louis Browne QC and includes Chris Tehrani QC, Steven Fennell, Alfie Weiss, David Temkin and Nicola Daley.

Louis Browne, who was called to the Bar in 1988 and took silk in 2017, is a recognised leader in the field of Inquiries. He is currently instructed in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry and was instructed at the Manchester Arena Inquiry. Other members of the Exchange Chambers team have expertise across wide-ranging areas of law and are recognised as leaders in their field.

Previously, Sir Brian Leveson chaired the public inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the British Press, prompted by the News of the World phone hacking affair.

Sir Brian Leveson’s first report for Boohoo was published last week and acknowledged the pace with which the group is effecting change, concluding that the company “has enthusiastically started the journey and is travelling along the right road”.

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Adeel Farooq

RevGlue, a platform that enables affiliates and online publishers to easily monetise their websites, blogs, mobile apps and social channels, has secured investment of £300,000 from GC Angels and Admitad to scale up its sales and marketing activity in the UK.

Based in Didsbury, Manchester, RevGlue has spent the past three years building a range of tools that enable users to create new affiliate websites in minutes. With consumers seeking opportunities to save money when shopping online, RevGlue allows anyone to become a paid online publisher and target consumers with cashback, coupon and discount offers.

To capitalise on this opportunity, RevGlue will use the investment to hire a new sales and marketing team in Manchester and expand its engineering team to optimise its existing tools and develop new capabilities. The business is already working with the UK’s top affiliate networks and social media influencers with plans to expand into the USA early this year.

Damian Mohammed, investment director at GC Angels, said: “RevGlue offers individuals who have been adversely impacted by the pandemic a real opportunity to make a living through social media and other online channels, which is a sector set for major growth this year.”

Adeel Farooq, CEO and founder at RevGlue, said: “Thanks to the investment from GC Angels and Admitad, we now have the opportunity to scale our business activities in the UK over the next 12 months, before launching RevGlue into global markets with enhanced offers and tools.”

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Founders Ryan Williams and Andrew Trotman

Manchester-based social media, marketing and licensing business, KOMI Group, has invested in The Football Faithful which is one of the UK and Ireland’s leading sports publishers. Its focus is on delivering the latest news, opinions, topical features, tactical analysis and nostalgia and averages five million views per month.

The value of the deal has not been disclosed, but the partnership will see The Football Faithfull fall under the KOMI group umbrella. It is the latest addition to the growing number of KOMI’s social media brands which include It’s Gone Viral, Go Fetch, Ultimate, Happiest as well as various sporting and gaming brands.

KOMI managing director, Andrew Trotman, said: “We saw this as a natural opportunity to bring our skills and complementary audiences together. It will also add to KOMI’s strong family of in-house brands and accounts, give us another home for premium sport content and the opportunity to offer our clients access to a new platform which is commercially really exciting.”

Peter Henry, The Football Faithful managing director, said: “KOMI has a proven track record of building some of the most popular football accounts on social media so was an obvious fit for us.

“By focusing on producing high quality content that caters to the needs of football fans of all interests, The Football Faithful has quickly become one of the UK’s fastest growing Premier League publishers and I’m confident this new relationship with KOMI will help us to continue to go from strength to strength.”

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Gary Davison

Tosca Debt Capital’s Manchester team has backed a management buyout at specialist environmental consultancy The GDM Group, as well as a merger with facilities management company Concourse. Both companies are based in London.

The management buyout was led by GDM Group managing director and co-founder Gary Draper, alongside chairman Nigel Taylor and co-founders/directors, David Moseby, Craig Scott, Chris Doyle and Alex Riche. The deal was funded by Tosca Debt Capital.

Gary Draper said: “We are now poised to embark upon the next stage of our growth with our partner, Tosca Debt Capital, to further develop our capabilities and geographic reach whilst continuing to focus on providing unparalleled levels of service to our clients.”

Gary Davison, partner at Tosca Debt Capital, said: “We are delighted to have been able to support the GDM and Concourse teams to acquire their newly-merged businesses. We exist to unlock growth in regional businesses and look forward to working with the team to build further value over the coming months and years.”

Advisers on the transaction included: DLA (TDC), Grant Thornton (tax-TDC), Hill Dickinson (management).

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Blackpool Airport

Blackpool Council has been successful in its bid for expert help and support with the future development of Blackpool Airport awarded through the Airfield Development Advisory Fund.

The fund provides eligible UK airfields and associated businesses access to professional and business advice to support their future development. The advice offered will include bespoke, specialist assistance on activities such as planning and conservation policy, accountancy, business model development and innovation.

The advisory fund is managed by the Department for Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority and administered by ICF, a global consulting and digital services provider. Blackpool will receive up to five days’ professional guidance and advisory services across a range of disciplines, by UK-based experts pre-selected by the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Blackpool Council applied for consultancy advice to assist with commercial marketing activity to help secure new business, assessing and identifying viable routes, potential operators and partner airfields.

Cllr Gillian Campbell, chair of the airport board, said: “The masterplan for the airport has identified a range of viable potential business streams for the airport over the next few years and we are currently exploring various avenues of activity that would secure a long term, sustainable future for Blackpool Airport. Additional expert advice to assist us with our strategic business planning will be hugely beneficial in helping us to realise both our limitations, and our ambitions for the airport.”

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