Playful Promises is growing and it’s latest addition is some new investors.
The London-based lingerie, swimwear and activewear e-tailer has signed a deal to sell a minority stake to Bestport Private Equity for an undisclosed amount to help scale the business online.
“We have already begun to implement a multitude of measures to help strengthen our e-commerce offering and this is an exciting step in the development of the business,” said Emma Parker, who cofounded the company in 2005. “The funding and expertise provided by Bestport and Will [Hobhouse] as chairman, will help accelerate the growth of the business and broaden the awareness of the brands. Their experience in growing small businesses will help bolster both our team and the brand in what we hope will be a period of exponential growth.”
Parker, who will remain with the company as managing director after the deal is complete, would not reveal the price of the transaction, but said it was a “several-million pound deal.”
Meanwhile, Hobhouse — previously chairman of furniture company Heal’s, British apparel and accessories brand Jack Wills and luxury brand Sunspel, among other firms — will be the newly appointed chairman.
“It is a real privilege to join Bestport investing in Playful Promises,” Hobhouse said. “Emma Parker and her team have spent 16 years building some great brands in a fast-moving and highly specialized part of the lingerie market. The niche being carved out is experiencing very fast growth worldwide and Playful Promises addresses that by designing, sourcing and manufacturing with an obsession for the customer and what she wants. We look forward to working together to exploit a very exciting opportunity.”
James Stoddart, managing partner of Bestport, added, “We are excited to work with Emma and Will to support the future growth of the brands and e-commerce business. We believe there is a tremendous opportunity for inclusive brands to thrive in the current marketplace.”
Playful Promises, which sells innerwear and swimwear from names like Kilo Brava, Luxe Palm, Scantilly by Curvy Kate and Kiss Me Deadly on its website, in addition to its own Playful Promises and Wolf & Whistle brands and holds licensing agreements for a number of celebrity collaborations, is known for its mix of sexy and inclusive offerings.
In fact, despite the need to hunker down at home amid the pandemic — or perhaps because of it — the firm has seen record growth in the last year. (Sales of sexy styles rose the most. Crotchless underpants, for example, rose 90 percent in November 2020, year-over-year.) The e-tailer currently ships to shoppers in the U.K., the U.S. and Australia and is now anticipating total e-commerce revenues to grow by 70 percent in the coming year, compared with sales from the prior year.
In addition to growing the digital platform, Parker said the added funds will be used to update the assortment (“The first two categories we have earmarked for exploration are toys and beauty products,” she said.) and add staff, such as the newly hired e-commerce director and finance and operations director.
“Our new e-comm director has a lot of experience with setting up and growing digital concessions to multimillion-pound revenue streams,” Parker said.
Playful Promises will begin its venture into the digital concessions direct-to-consumer model with Zalando. (The company already sells to Zalando by way of wholesale.) But Parker said the firm will add sizes and additional brand names, including Deja Day, to the concessions business that are not stocked by way of wholesale.
“We are also in talks with John Lewis in the U.K. [for concessions] and Nordstrom and are looking to start trading direct-to-consumer on Amazon,” Parker said. “There seems to be a trend for big-name e-comm players to be moving away from holding stock to instead treating their stores as platforms that other retailers can sell on and we are keen to grow in this market.”