Iconic British ceramics brand Emma Bridgewater has secured an £8m investment from BGF, the UK and Ireland’s most active investor in growing businesses, to support further UK growth and international expansion.
Founded in 1984, Emma Bridgewater designs and manufactures hand-decorated pottery and a wide selection of home products. It was established by Emma after she was unable to find the right gift for her mother’s birthday and to this day the pottery products are handmade in a renovated 19th Century factory in Stoke-on-Trent. Its products are are sold through its website, own stores, as well as wholesale customers such as John Lewis and Next. More recently, the Emma Bridgewater brand has diversified into glassware, stationery, picnic-ware, wallpaper and fabrics. Revenues have grown to over £20m in 2019, with EBITDA of over £2m.
HSBC has also committed a £2.5m debt facility which, together with BGF’s £8m investment will support Emma Bridgewater’s continued growth in the UK, increasing capacity at its Stoke-on-Trent factory, and exploring international markets including the United States and China.
The transaction sees Colin Porter join the board as non-executive Chair. Colin brings with him a wealth of e-commerce, brand and international retail experience from his successful period as CEO of Joules and current non-executive roles at Moss Bros and Hotel Chocolat.
Founder Emma Bridgewater said: “The company is well-known for relaxed, colourful, domestic pottery; our distinctive and friendly designs are also available on a wide range of home wares, beyond the kitchen dresser. All our ceramics are made in Staffordshire deploying traditional local craft skills; we have grown organically over the past 35 years whilst staying true to my vision of beautiful wares, made with love and attention in a beautiful factory. I am personally very excited to have this opportunity to work with the BGF, with Colin Porter chairing our Board, to expand our brand into new markets - and a new era.”
Joanne Smith, an investor at BGF who will be joining the board of Emma Bridgewater, said: “Emma Bridgewater is a long-standing, iconic British design brand driven by a highly-capable and professional team, and with exciting plans for future growth. We’re delighted to be joining the business as its long-term investment partner as it explores new sales opportunities both here in the UK and overseas.”
Stephen Welton, CEO of BGF, said: “We recognise that Covid-19 is creating immense challenges for small and medium-sized businesses across all sectors, cities and towns in the UK and Ireland. However, BGF remains committed to backing high-potential firms such as Emma Bridgewater, and we will continue to make new investments, supporting businesses and contributing to the longer-term economic health of the UK and Ireland.”
The deal was led for BGF by Joanne Smith, Chris Nixon and Tom Horton.
The advisors to the transaction were:
For BGF: Freeths LLP (legal), Mazars (tax)
For Emma Bridgewater: Lexington Corporate Finance, Michelmores LLP (legal), Bishop Fleming (Tax)