Somerset fashion specialist acquired by national retailer

Kettlewell Colours

An innovative online fashion brand in Somerset has been acquired by a fast-growing business.

Refined Brands Group – a portfolio of ethically sourced, natural and sustainable British brands – has acquired Kettlewell Colours for an undisclosed amount.

Kettlewell Colours is a fast-growing online retailer of high-quality own-brand women’s clothing and accessories, with a strong focus on ethical fashion.

Corporate finance advisor BCMS advised the shareholders of Kettlewell Colours on the transaction.

Kettlewell Colours has an extensive catalogue of clothes and accessories, in over 300 colour shades, across multiple product categories.

The business is the market leader in the concept of colour analysis, which takes into account the tone of an individual customer’s skin, eyes, and hair to match them with the right colours for their wardrobe.

Founded in 2004 by Melissa Nicholson and her husband John the company was created as an online one-stop-shop for women.

Kettlewell Colours works predominantly with small, family-run factories who share their environmental values.

The deal represents a complementary and strategic acquisition for Refined Brands, who are digital pioneers of the ethical fashion movement, with a strong focus on British heritage and high-quality manufacturing.

Other firms in the Refined Brands stable include Cornish lifestyle brand Celtic & Co., ethical childrenswear brand Frugi, and the upcycled cashmere accessories brand Turtle Doves.

Melissa Nicholson  said: “I am thrilled to be joining a fantastic group of entrepreneurial British brands with sustainability at their heart.

“I am really looking forward to partnering with the Refined Brands team to accelerate the growth of Kettlewell Colours in the UK and Internationally, introducing more people to the powerful benefits of wearing your best colours.”

She added: “It has been such an amazing and satisfying experience having BCMS guide us through the journey and complexities of finding a buyer for our business. We did not know what to expect from a sale process at the outset, but the team were always there to support and advise us, providing strong partnership and leadership from preparation through to completion.

“The BCMS team took the time to really understand our business and its potential from the get-go and in doing so managed to attract strong, strategic interest from a number of potential suitors. Despite a very challenging and uncertain economic backdrop, they managed to maintain momentum and ultimately delivered a very successful outcome, which met each of our respective objectives and priorities whilst also securing the best possible home for the business.”

Melissa and John continued: “It shouldn’t be underestimated that the journey to exit takes time and requires some considerable attention and involvement with your advisor.”

Jeremy Bate, a senior director at BCMS who led on our advice to the shareholders of Kettlewell Colours, added: “It was a very enjoyable journey advising John and Melissa on the sale of the business, and we are delighted to have delivered an outcome which realises both of their respective objectives.

“Despite ongoing challenges faced by the wider retail market, Kettlewell Colours continues to deliver consistent growth, proving itself to be a very strong and resilient performer. Refined Brands is a great home for the business – the vision and strategy for the combined group is highly compelling, and we look forward to seeing that success unfold in due course.”

James Williams, group managing director of Refined Brands, said: “We have long been admirers of Kettlewell’s philosophy, renowned for products that offer longevity with a focus on maximising your full wardrobe and a cost per wear ethos at the heart. Working alongside the team, we are looking forward to extending natural, organic and recycled fibres through the range over the coming seasons.”

Grant Thornton  provided financial and tax due diligence on both the Kettlewell Colours and Turtle Doves deals and buy-side support on the pre-pack acquisition of Frugi – which included support from the firm’s restructuring team (Alistair Wardell and Will Robinson). 

John Panteli, Grant Thornton’s head of transaction advisory services in the South said: “With increasing consumer awareness over the environmental impact of the clothes we buy, Refined Brands has a clear and compelling strategy to build a differentiated group of brands with the highest ESG credentials.” 

“We are delighted to have advised on these three important acquisitions and look forward to supporting the Refined Brands team as it continues its selective buy and build growth strategy.”