The FGB Digest brings you the latest news on the world’s fastest growing direct-to-consumer and challenger brands. In today’s edition: Cazoo becomes fastest UK unicorn; Away secures USD$30m-USD$40m (£24m-£32m) funding; and MORI growth quadruples.
Cazoo becomes fastest UK unicorn
Online car retailer Cazoo has raised £25m in venture funding from new investor Draper Esprit, along with returning supporters DMG Ventures and General Catalyst, in doing so becoming the fastest UK-based company to achieve ‘unicorn’ status with a valuation of over USD$1bn (£800m), with the platform having launched only six months ago. As previously reported on FastGrowthBrands.com, Cazoo raised £100m in March to facilitate expansion, with prior rounds in December 2018 (£30m), September 2019, and December 2019 (both £25m), fuelling the London-based firm’s growth. Cazoo has also announced that Stephen Morana, formerly with Betfair and Zoopla, has been appointed to the company’s board of directors as Chief Financial Officer.
In a statement, Cazoo Founder and CEO Alex Chesterment OBE commented, “We have an amazing team who are dedicated to reinventing the used car buying experience by providing the best selection, value, quality, and convenience for UK car buyers. Despite the current challenges many businesses are facing, Britain remains a market leader for talent and innovation and a great place to start a business.”
Away secures USD$30m-USD$40m (£24m-£32m) funding
Direct-to-consumer (DTC) luggage brand Away has raised in the region of USD$30m-USD$40m (£24m-£32m) through the issuance of convertible notes to existing shareholders, which include Baillie Gifford and Wellington Management. According to Axios, the financing was garnered at a lower valuation than the USD$1.45bn (£1.16bn) Away attracted in its USD$100m (£80m) Series D round which closed in April 2019.
With restrictions on travel imposed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Away’s sales have fallen by as much as 90%, with approximately half its workforce furloughed and a further 10% made redundant. Earlier in December last year, the New York-based brand courted negative headlines following reports of abusive management practices, which led to the resignation of co-founder Steph Korey as Chief Executive, though she continues as Executive Chairman.
Writing in April, Korey and fellow co-founder Jennifer Rubio commented on the effect of Covid-19 on its business, “Over the last few weeks, however, it became apparent that there was no way to maintain the size of our team and stay solvent through this crisis. A month ago, we were making a healthy profit margin on every order. Today, the company’s salary costs alone exceed our revenues many times over. What once seemed like a healthy cash balance is no longer enough to keep the lights on without dramatic action.”
MORI growth quadruples
London-based baby clothing brand MORI has reportedly quadrupled its growth during the Covid-19 lockdown period, with its June revenue reaching record levels. The company, which attracted Series A funding worth £4m in May last year, has now seen its year-to-date revenue in June exceed those generated throughout the entirety of 2019, attributed to a widespread shift to e-commerce as physical outlets remained closed.
MORI CEO and Founder Akin Onal commented, “Consumers are fast-forwarding their adoption of digital platforms and services by 5-10 years. There is also a much stronger shift towards sustainability than ever before with consumers choosing brands that offer longevity over fashion trend-led products. Over the last 5 years at MORI we have been investing in our sustainable practices and online services, allowing us to build a brand that customers connect with and can rely on. With COVID-19 changing the landscape of retail , and consumers opting for conscious consumerism, we have been at the forefront of this change.”