Mike Welch's Atterley.com cuts a dash with sales figures and funding drive

Online fashion start-up Atterley.com is eyeing major funding after reporting a surge in sales.

Mike Welch is also the founder of Blackcircles, which was sold in 2014. Picture: Stewart Attwood
Mike Welch is also the founder of Blackcircles, which was sold in 2014. Picture: Stewart Attwood

The Edinburgh-based venture, founded by Mike Welch, the entrepreneur behind tyre-fitting retailer Blackcircles, said it was on track for sales growth of 150 per cent in 2019, having recorded a 100 per cent gain in 2018. Non-EU sales are growing fast and now make up about 30 per cent of turnover.

The firm recently added the 200th boutique to its supply chain, now ships to more than 100 countries and has some 1.300 brands live on the site.

Last October, Atterley secured a multi-million-dollar investment from PDS Multinational Group, a global design house and clothing manufacturer. The funding round came amid an explosion of activity in the online fashion sector, including Farfetch’s multi-billion-dollar flotation on the New York Stock Exchange.

Welch, who is also the chairman of Atterley, said: “We’re excited to see Atterley start to scale, underpinned by a hard-working team who remain focused on keeping the boutiques and our UK and international customers front and centre of everything we do.

“It’s gratifying to see that reflected in both sales growth and how highly we are rated for customer experience. Of course, our successes to date are underpinned by our network of boutiques and we’d like to thank them for their continued support.”

He added: “A series A funding round is our next step now that we are confident we have established a solid base to scale profitable sales from. I’d anticipate early stage discussions with VCs [venture capitalists] and strategic investors as early as November this year.”

With a similar model to Farfetch, the Atterley site enables independent fashion boutiques and brands to list and sell their inventories – both womenswear and menswear. It promotes items for boutique owners, manages customer acquisition and customer care, and last year launched image search artificial intelligence (AI) technology that allows online shoppers to search for items by uploading photos.

While the majority of the boutiques on the site are UK-based, the team has brought on board a string of European independents. It plans to continue its international expansion over the next 12 months.

The company has also continued to add more sustainable brands this year in response to customer demand.

Atterley recently appointed James Eccleshall as head of operations. Eccleshall was hired from Blackcircles. Kenny Baillie, Atterley’s chief executive, said: “James understands the issues faced by the independent boutiques, how to drive sales and it’s great to have him on board.”

Debra McCann, owner of The Mercantile in London, said: “We have what I would describe as a proper partnership with Atterley where nothing is a problem, a solution is always found and you are working together on a common goal.

“I have upmost respect for what they are doing and how they are achieving the best results all round.”

Atterley was launched in 2016 by Welch, who sold Blackcircles.com, which he had founded in 2003, to tyre giant Michelin in 2014.