DSW Ventures has completed the sale of its investment into ACAI Outdoorwear, the female-first, outdoor clothing ecommerce brand. The DSW Ventures stake in ACAI was acquired by Growth Partner, a consumer-focused investment firm backed by HomeServe plc Founder and CEO Richard Harpin. The transaction marks the first exit from the DSW Ventures portfolio of 10 early-stage growth businesses.
The investment has achieved a 4.2x cash-on-cash return to the DSW Ventures investors, after all disposal costs, in just over three years – an IRR of over 50% per annum.
ACAI was founded in 2016 by fashion designer and entrepreneur Kasia Bromley and her husband Joe. The couple have experienced exceptional growth with ACAI, consistently doubling revenue each year and growing the staff base from 4 to 25 over the last three years. Richard Leedham (ex-Berghaus CEO and Pentland Group Executive Board member) recently stepped in to the CEO role to lead the next phase of growth.
Kasia, whose design experience included the likes of Alexander McQueen, saw a need for innovation in women’s outdoor clothing. Frustrated by the existing attitude which was based on a male product which had been ‘pinked and shrinked’. ACAI’s products are tailored for active women and are as well-placed hiking in the hills, walking the dog or strolling in a park.
The Growth Partner investment will support the acceleration of strategic opportunities for the business – to grow internationally, launch new products and expand from the direct-to-consumer channel.
Keith Benson, cofounder of DSW Ventures said “We are delighted to have achieved the milestone of our first exit. When we invested, we took a chance on a small ecommerce business run by a husband and wife team with a huge task ahead of them – but with an incredible core product which was, and remains, genuinely differentiated in the market. We are very pleased that our first exit is a successful one – having helped build ACAI into a sustainable business with a robust operating platform and good leadership, we are pleased to pass the baton to Growth Partner. We wish Kasia, Joe and their team all the very best.”