Secret Sales has raised €10m from a group of heavyweight retail investors to fund its ambition to become the world’s largest non-full price marketplace for fashion and beauty.
The investment round follows a year of “stellar growth” for the business and was led by the family-backed private equity and growth capital investor Perwyn Growth Capital and supported by Belerion Capital, the e-commerce investment specialist and early stage investor in ASOS, The Hut Group and Boohoo.
Secret Sales will use the money to advance technological development, scaling its e-commerce platform to allow it to compete as a global player in the discount retail space. The marketplace will expand its UK operation alongside launching in new territories in 2021.
“Our Series A funding round from experienced investors validates the significant opportunity for Secret Sales’ business model worldwide, and will allow us to meet increasing demand from brands and retailers looking for an upmarket, profitable and sustainable way to sell non-full price inventory,” said Secret Sales CEO Chris Griffin. “Following an exceptional first year, we are now ready to accelerate domestic and international operations, spearheading a new era for the discount sector.”
Since it launched in March 2000, Secret Sales has achieved a 4,000% growth rate and showcases around 700 brands, including Dolce & Gabbana, Versace 19v69, G-Star Raw, Superdry, Ted Baker and Jigsaw, as well as premium retailers including YNAP, Harvey Nichols, JD Sports and high street jewellery business F Hinds.
The marketplace’s business model enables fashion houses to clear non-full price inventory in a “brand-enhancing environment”, while driving new customer acquisition via a GDPR-compliant opt-in where customers can choose to hear directly from brands’ full price channels. The business is due to launch in six further countries this year.
Investec advised Secret Sales on the deal and its managing director Dan Sheahan said: “Secret Sales has built a modern online marketplace that works in partnership with brands and retailers – it’s a true disruptor in its sector.
“We’ve helped match two strong investment partners with one of the most exciting value propositions in retail. They are backing Chris Griffin, an entrepreneur with a track record of creating market leading retail technology, having successfully sold his earlier company Anatwine to Europe’s largest e-commerce fashion retailer Zalando in 2017. We look forward to continuing to work with the business as it seeks to dominate the off-price retail industry.”
Matt Purt, co-owner of Secret Sales, added: “We are thrilled to have closed this funding round and to embark upon the next stage of our amazing journey. We are fast becoming the dominant platform that puts ‘brand’ first in the non-full price space, providing brands and retailers with a route to market to sell overstock quickly and profitably every season, while preserving and growing rather than eroding brand equity.
“Holding onto stock for too long is costly. By partnering with Secret Sales, sell-through can be optimised in real time. The investment will further enable us to innovate and deploy proprietary data AI to help fashion houses sell discounted inventory faster, supporting cleaner inventory in season, gaining higher margins and introducing new gateway consumers to their own channels. It’s time for the industry to reset and to stop thinking about non-full price stock solely in terms of cash recovery. We are the platform that will enable this for thousands of brands globally.”
Griffin and Purt acquired Secret Sales in 2019 and in March 2020 relaunched the former members-only flash sales site as a dedicated marketplace.