An ambitious North East fashion label is scaling up after winning a six-figure investment from the North East Growth Capital Fund Supported by the European Regional Development Fund.

Sports-contemporary and urban wear fashion brand Fresh Couture currently sells its growing product range through more than 50 retailers, including JD Sports and Foot Asylum, as well as via its own website.

The North Tyneside-headquartered firm has worked with regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers to secure a £250,000 investment which it is now using to bring more of its product design, marketing and web design work in house.

It is also planning to greatly increase the size of its menswear range over the next four seasons, from around 40 to 180 items, and will also soon be launching its first ever women’s clothing range.

The management team is aiming to quadruple the business’s turnover over the same period and expects to create at least four new jobs as it implements its development plans.

Richard Urron and Neil Hindley, partners at RSM in Newcastle, recommended NEL Fund Managers to Fresh Couture and are working with the business on its continuing development.

Fresh Couture was founded in 2013 by Nathan Malcolm, the son of a seamstress, who began by customising and modernising pocket T-shirts which he sold around the North East.

He was joined in the business in 2016 by fellow director Jamie Howey, since when their marrying of sporting heritage and contemporary design to create a modern athleisure brand has seen the business grow quickly to achieve a seven-figure annual turnover.

The firm’s latest collection launched in mid-January, and the two directors have recently added Dale Parr, an experienced fashion retailer with a specialism in digital strategy, to the management team as chief operating officer.

Dale Parr says: “Bringing more of our design work in-house gives us greater control over the creative processes and will enable us to implement more of our ideas in ways which we know will give our customers what they want.

“We’re now beginning on a dramatic expansion of our menswear range which will be driven by a detailed understanding and appreciation of what our customers want from us, and this knowledge will also translate into the women’s range that we will soon have available.

“We have ambitious targets to hit, but we’re very confident that increasing our capacity through creating new North East jobs and delivering more of the quality products on which our success has so far been based will enable us to achieve our business objectives.   

“The investment options offered by NEL fit very well with the business’s needs and working with a team that takes such a transparent, flexible and commercially-aware approach to its work was a very positive experience.”

Jane Siddle, investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “Fresh Couture’s creativity, fashion aesthetic and understanding of its target markets has created a very successful operation that we’re very confident will now go on to do even bigger and better things.”

Neil Hindley at RSM says: “This additional funding will enable the directors at Fresh Couture to continue to develop their existing relationships with the larger retailers and significantly increase the brand’s profile both in the UK and online.

“This is a business with ambitious plans and we’re looking forward to working with them further to see these ambitions achieved.”

The North East Growth Capital Fund has been designed to create around 790 jobs in more than 70 regional firms over the life of the programme and offers unsecured investments of up to £500,000 to established businesses looking to realise their growth potential.

NEL Fund Managers is actively looking for potential investees from Tyne & Wear, Durham and Northumberland to put their investment ideas forward.

 The overarching £120m North East Fund will provide financial support for more than 600 businesses, creating around 3,500 jobs and delivering a legacy of up to £80m for further investment into the region.