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Bridges backs online clothing business

The investment in Clothingsites marks the third deal from Bridges’ £125m Sustainable Growth Fund III.

Bridges Ventures, a UK-based firm with a social impact-driven investment strategy, has acquired Clothingsites, a designer menswear e-commerce business in the UK.

Established in 2002, the Clothingsites consists of Woodhouse Clothing, a menswear e-commerce retailer, Brown Bag, which sells out of season stock at discounted prices, and Trainerstation, which sells trainers and shoes. The business generated 30 percent revenue growth in 2013.

The investment in Clothingsites marks the third deal from £125 million Bridges Sustainable Growth Fund III, which closed last year above its £100 million target. Bridges will use the majority of the capital it invests for stock, recruitment, technical upgrades and the relocation to a larger warehouse, the firm said in a statement.

Clothingsites fits within Bridges’ investment strategy to back companies that can generate attractive returns for investors as well as bring about positive societal impact. The business expects to create more than 100 jobs in an area of high unemployment as a result of the investment, a large proportion of which will be recruited from the UK’s Job Centre Plus after the relocation to a new warehouse.

“There is a continuing shift in retail towards e-commerce,” Alistair Tillen, a partner at Bridges, said in the statement. “Clothingsites’ target market, strong management team, brand portfolio and size together represent a compelling platform on which to build not only a profitable business, but also to create a large number of jobs for previously unemployed people.”

Bridges has also appointed Paul Gilbert as chairman for Clothingsites, who has experience in senior financial and management roles in consumer-facing businesses such as Matalan, National Car Parks, GUS and Littlewoods. He was also appointed non-executive chairman of Bridges-backed gym company The Gym Group in 2012.

Last November, Bridges invested in Qbic, a new 'budget boutique' hotel in London's East End. The firm’s Fund III has also invested in The Vet, a Bristol-based veterinary service which provides clinical pet care at affordable prices to pet owners in deprived areas.