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True acquires majority stake in ethical kidswear brand Frugi

Lauretta Roberts
23 July 2018

Private equity house True has acquired a majority stake in ethical baby, kids and maternity brand Frugi and former executive board director of Superdry and chief of staff at Marks & Spencer Hugo Adams has joined as CEO.

Primarily sold via its website, alongside retail partners including John Lewis, Zalando, Next and independent stores, Frugi was founded in Cornwall by husband and wife team Lucy and Kurt Jewson in 2004 and was received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in 2014.In its manufacturing, Frugi uses only organic cotton or recycled plastic bottles (it recycles 36 to make one of its winter jackets) and donates 1% of its annual revenue to good causes.

The Jewsons remain shareholders in the business and Lucy Jewson has been appointed as brand ambassador however the sale will give the couple time to take a step back from the business following Kurt's recent battle with prostate cancer (he is now in remission).

Paul Cocker, True’s co-founder said: “We invest in businesses, teams and people who forge retail and consumer change. True’s very first investment was pureplay childrenswear e-commerce business, Alex&Alexa, and we are excited to continue to invest in a sector in which we have already achieved significant success. Lucy and Frugi’s approach to product integrity, ethics, brand loyalty and digital fulfilment reflects what modern shoppers want. Frugi has great potential, allowing us to attract someone of Hugo’s calibre to lead the next phase of growth, alongside Lucy and the team.”

Lucy Jewson added: “Frugi is built on strong ethical values, so it was important to find an investor that respects this, but also has the experience to help support our future growth, particularly digitally. Paul and the True team – as entrepreneurs themselves – quickly grasped the opportunities and challenges we face as a rapidly growing business. They’re going to protect and enhance Frugi’s innovative and ethical ethos, while helping us reach more like-minded customers around the world.”

Adams, who has also held senior positions with Dyson and The Body Shop, said Frugi had significant potential of growth in the UK and internationally. “Lucy and her team have created something very special with Frugi. For many people, product provenance and corporate ethics are increasingly important; Frugi is part of that awakening, so it’s an exciting time to join. The potential for further growth – here in the UK and beyond – is significant.”

True’s Live Network, including its Startup Innovator and Leading Industry Partner programmes, will help Frugi identify next-generation marketing solutions, products and emerging technologies to accelerate international growth. True’s Leading Industry Partners include: John Lewis, Morrisons, LandSec, Abercrombie & Fitch, TJX and South African and Australian retailer, Woolworths.

Frugi will join the other digital-focused businesses within True’s private equity portfolio – Ribble Cycles and The Cotswold Company. The deal was led by Paul Cocker, Ben Kirby, and Richard Brick.

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