Investors get on board with £15m minority stake in Passenger

Outdoor clothing brand Passenger has secured £15m from investors including the vehicles backed by HomeServe founder Richard Harpin and former Gymshark chief executive Steve Hewitt.

Harpin’s consumer-specialist investment firm, Growth Partner, and Hewitt’s Whanau advisory firm have taken minority stakes in the fast-growing business.

Hewitt will become chairman of Passenger and former Gymshark CFO Philip Daw will become a strategic advisor to Passenger. 

The brand was founded by Richard and Alexa Sutcliffe in 2012. In the last 12 months, it 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 its New Forest HQ and a further 25 staff in a Yorkshire distribution centre.

For every order it secures, Passenger plants a tree and over 90% of its product range is made with lower impact materials like recycled cotton, recycled polyester, hemp and organic cotton.

So far, the business has planted over 500,000 native trees and protected 28,000,000 sqm of rainforest through its charity partners, The Rainforest Trust and Trees For The Future.

The Sutcliffes were joined by founder of Surfdome, Justin Stone as executive chairman and Jon Lane as CEO in 2019. Passenger is now is on track to achieve £50m in sales this year.

Growth Partner investment director, James Worrall, led the £15m deal and joins the board as non-executive director.

Will Munday and Francesca Kinsella at DWF provided legal advice, Dan Rosinke and Bob McDermott at Grant Thornton provided financial due diligence, and Ben Martin at One4Zero provided digital due diligence for Growth Partner.

Passenger and its shareholders were advised by Tom Copeland and Chris Hobbs at PWC and Robert Wood and Sian Daly from Osborne Clarke.

Steve Hewitt and Whanau were advised by Tom Rush and Rachel Cox at Gateley.

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