Maternity fashion brand Isabella Oliver secures £1.4m Santander funding to finance expansion

Backing comprises £700,000 growth capital investment and £700,000 debt finance

Leading maternity fashion brand Isabella Oliver today announced it has secured £1.4m funding through Santander’s Breakthrough programme, which will be used to facilitate a programme of growth.

Founded in 2003 by husband-and-wife team Geoff van Sonsbeeck and Baukjen de Swaan Arons, Isabella Oliver specialises in luxury fashion for women during pregnancy.

Since foundation the brand has grown rapidly, helped by endorsements from high-profile celebrities including Jennifer Lopez and Angelina Jolie.

Much of the company’s success comes from word of mouth, with around a third of its sales generated from customer referrals.

Winner of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in 2010, the brand also has a growing wholesale arm supplying retailers such as Harrods, Nordstrom and ASOS.

The backing, which comprises £700,000 growth capital investment and a £700,000 debt finance agreement, will be used to grow Isabella Oliver’s workforce from 65 to 95 over the next 12 months alongside a large-scale sales and marketing drive for the brand.

The growth capital investment is part of high-street bank Santander’s Breakthrough programme, an initiative that aims to bridge the funding gap for high-growth small businesses by providing them with access to finance and a programme of support.

Breakthrough is aimed at businesses with a turnover of less than £25m which can demonstrate growth of 20% per annum in turnover, profit or employment.

Baukjen de Swaan Arons, founder of Isabella Oliver, said: “I am so grateful to our customers and the way they have spread the word of our brand, but now is the time to take the next step and invest in the business so that we can reach even more customers at home and abroad.

“Getting investment finance is tricky for a company of our size on the edge of new growth, but this growth capital package is a perfect way to mix traditional debt funding with a flexible investment finance to help us affordably fund this next stage of our journey.”

Darren Hart, head of growth capital at Santander Corporate & Commercial, said: “We are thrilled to be supporting Isabella Oliver at this stage in their business lifecycle. It is the aim of Santander’s Breakthrough programme to help strong, viable small companies caught in this funding gap to realise their ambitions as we know that with the right finance and the right support with marketing, recruitment, and internationalisation, these companies can be the big job creators and economic drivers of their local communities and market places.

“That so much of Isabella Oliver’s growth has come from word of mouth and customer recommendations is testament to the quality of its business and product, and I have every faith that this will enable them to continue their strong growth trajectory.”

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