Investor takes £15m minority stake in outdoor clothing brand

Yorkshire-based consumer-specialist investment firm, Growth Partner, which is backed by HomeServe plc Founder and chairman Richard Harpin, has completed a £15m investment into outdoor clothing brand – Passenger.

As part of the transaction Steve Hewitt, former CEO of Solihull-headquartered Gymshark, is investing alongside Growth Partner and will become chairman of 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.

Passenger will also be joined by Whanau advisory, which was founded by Hewitt and includes a number of former Gymshark executives including Philip Daw, previously Gymshark CFO, who will become a strategic advisor to Passenger. 

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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