Online design firm look to raise £1m from crowdfunding

Sir Terry Leahy wants to transform homewares market. Picture: Contributed

Sir Terry Leahy wants to transform homewares market. Picture: Contributed

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A Scottish interior design business with an array of heavyweight directors on its board yesterday launched a public £1 million crowdfunding capital‑raising to help drive its digital growth.

Glasgow-based Houseology.com, whose board includes Sir Terry Leahy, former chief executive of Tesco, Bill Dobbie, founder of Scottish cloud computing and web hosting firm Iomart, and Jill Little, former strategy director of John Lewis Group, provides an online interior design and luxury homeware business.

The company, formerly known as Occa Home, is seeking development capital on the crowdfunding platform Seedrs.com. Investors will be able to commit any sum starting from £10 for an overall equity stake in the business of 10.96 per cent and a range of discounts on purchases.

The group, whose other directors include Bob Willett, former chief investment officer of Best Buy, and the William Currie Group, early stage investors in online fashion retailer Asos, was founded in 2012 by award-winning interior designer Kate Mooney. A spokesman for Houseology.com said Mooney identified a gap in the market “for a tech-driven interior design service aimed at simplifying the home design process for her affluent clients”.

Houseology.com has generated sales of £8.9 million worth of sales to date, a turnover of £3.7m in its 2014/15 financial year, and has more than 30,000 customers in 100 countries.

The latest public crowdfunding follows a private launch on Monday this week, when equity was made available to existing investors and some of the group’s trade customers.

To date, Houseology.com has delivered a compound annual rate of growth of 91 per cent to existing investors over three years. Its online portal has a range of more than 200 designer furniture and homeware brands.

Sir Terry Leahy said: “With the interiors sector dominated by mid to low-end players, there is significant room in the higher end of the market for a challenger brand like Houseology.com go grow.

“Our vision is to transform the homewares market in the same way Net a Porter did for fashion, and with Kate’s expertise and our Board’s considerable business experience, we’re confident this crowdfunding opportunity represents a strong investment.”

Analysts estimate that the UK homewares sector is worth £11.7bn, and predict further growth – the lion’s share of it online – to be powered by the economic recovery and more robust housing market.

Mooney said: “We’re offering a unique circle of value online by combining three key elements of the interior design industry in our portal – designer brands, independent interior designers and retail consumers – all within one convenient and customised buying experience.”

Moony said that while to date retail customers had comprised three-quarters of revenues, she saw a “huge opportunity among small trade customers, such as designers and architects, who can benefit from access to exclusive product lines and buying leverage that would normally be beyond their reach”.

Houseology said it would use the new capital to underpin its growth plans “including broadening its offering of proprietary digital technology and design tools, expanding the company’s B2B (business to business) proposition and driving international growth”.

Mooney’s Occa Design business continues to design for major hotel groups such as IHG, Hilton and Wyndham.

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