Mike Welch, the founder of Borders-based online tyre fitter Blackcircles.com, is aiming to give independent fashion brands a lift with the launch of his latest venture.
Edinburgh-based Atterley.com, which has just gone live and is already shipping to 25 countries, is focused on helping smaller brands and boutiques increase their sales in the face of tough competition on the high street and internet, where e-commerce giant Amazon has made a high-profile push into fashion.
Welch, who sold Blackcircles to French tyre group Michelin in a £50 million deal last year, said his latest venture will enable brands to take their products to market without the need for exclusivity contracts often demanded by rival websites.
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“We’re putting the boutiques first by supporting them with the lowest commission rates around, cutting-edge technology and a clear mission to champion their cause, democratise the marketplace and focus on delivering a world-class customer experience,” he said.
The entrepreneur chairs Atterley after buying its intellectual property assets from administrators at KPMG. Edinburgh-based boutique Jane Davidson – owned and run by Sarah Murray – is also on board, with Murray acting as an adviser.
Chief marketing officer Nick Freer said: “Boutiques tell us that similar offerings in the market are too expensive and the terms competitors ask them to sign up to are not good for business – we are working closely with our partners to make sure we continue to shape our offer in their best interests. It’s hard enough out there without constraining access to new customers.”
According to retail research agency Conlumino, the value of online fashion sales in the UK is on track to reach £7.5 billion next year. However, the cut-throat world of high street retailing saw the women’s clothing sector experience a sharp drop in store closures last year, according to a report from the Local Data Company.