LONDON – Investors are flocking to Samantha Cameron’s Cefinn brand, with the latest fund-raising round attracting 2.5 million pounds, WWD has learned. An announcement is expected today.
The new funds are from the third late-seed round of funding for Cefinn, the contemporary clothing brand that Cameron launched two years ago, based on her own background, needs and experiences.
The company said the round was “quickly and heavily” oversubscribed, leading to a larger investment than planned. Venrex, one of Cameron’s original investors, has earmarked more money for the label, while the Chinese investor Wendy Yu of the Hong Kong-based Yu Holdings, has also joined the mix.
The philanthropist and entrepreneur David Brownlow is taking a stake through Havisham Assets, a diverse investment and trading group with interests across a range of sectors including house building, technology, education and documentary filmmaking.
Brownlow will also become a board director of Cefinn. Other investors include Philip Bassett, founder of the investment firm Brightwell Partners, and the fashion technology entrepreneur Claudia Harding.
Cefinn said the new money has been earmarked for future growth with funds going into range development, customer-focused brand building and the building of logistics and sales channels to support international expansion and new wholesale partnerships.
The company said it is experiencing strong momentum, including a doubling of year-on-year sales in the past three months. It said Net-a-porter and Matchesfashion.com have already requested an extension to their fall 2018 orders.
Cefinn is an acronym of Cameron’s children’s names, plus an extra C for Cameron. It launched in 2016 and began trading last year, selling via its own Web site and at outlets including Selfridges, Net-a-porter, Matchesfashion.com, The Modist and Fenwick of Bond Street.
The founder’s background is diverse — and unique. Cameron was creative director at British luxury goods brand Smythson from 1996 to 2010, and became a part-time creative consultant to the brand in 2010 after her husband David Cameron became Britain’s Prime Minister.
When she was first lady, Cameron sat on the panel of the Vogue Fashion Fund and served as an ambassador for the British Fashion Council. She appeared regularly in the British press, looking breezy and elegant as she ferried her kids to school on a scooter or hosted events with the likes of Barack and Michelle Obama.
Investors said Cefinn is on a winning streak.
Mark Esiri of Venrex, which is known for backing British lifestyle businesses with a portfolio that includes Charlotte Tilbury, Revolut, Orlebar Brown, Just-Eat and Notonthehighstreet.com, said the Cefinn team has exceeded its plans since the launch.
“We are only too happy to have the opportunity to make a further investment,” he said. “Repeat order rates and customer satisfaction metrics are as high as anything we have seen across fashion and beauty.”
Yu Holdings, which has invested in brands including Mary Katrantzou, Bottletop, and Fashion Concierge (formerly known as ASAP 54), has earmarked up to $20 million to put behind emerging businesses in 2018.
Yu said Cefinn has been building a label for “real modern-day women, who work, have busy lives” and said she sees much opportunity for growth, especially in China, “where women are increasingly focusing on their careers, and whom I envisage would go back to Cefinn season after season as their go-to brand for work wear and events.”
As reported in July, Samantha Cameron Studio Ltd., Cefinn’s parent, filed its first financial statements with Companies House in the U.K. At the time, the company, which launched in 2016, confirmed it is on track with its business plan.
Although a small company such as Cefinn is not obliged to disclose its turnover under U.K. law, it said performance was “above expectations,” with half of the business coming from e-commerce and the balance from wholesale, with strong sell-throughs and reorders.
Cefinn ships to 26 countries, although the majority of sales are from the U.K. The label is positioned in the contemporary segment, with dresses ranging in price from $380 for a sleeveless, asymmetric shift dress to $590 for a wool midi-dress.