North East Venture Fund

Luxury handbag restorer targets further growth after £800k fundraise

A company that restores and resells luxury handbags to clients worldwide has raised £800,000 from the North East Venture Fund (NEVF), supported by the European Regional Development Fund and managed by Mercia, and private investors, to support its growth.

The investment will allow Handbag Clinic to create around 20 new jobs at its premises in Burnopfield, Co Durham, further develop its technology and strengthen its senior management team.

As part of the investment, the company has appointed the former CEO of Claire’s Accessories, Beatrice LaFon, as Chair and Ian Griffiths, founder of – another company backed by Mercia – as Digital Strategy Consultant to help boost its e-commerce sales. It is also working with Durham University to adapt facial recognition technology to authenticate handbags and assess their condition and value.

Handbag Clinic restores around 700 bags each month and resells around 300, including luxury brands such as Hermes, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Dior and Gucci. In addition to its e-commerce site, the company has stores in King’s Road in Chelsea and in Leeds, concessions in Fenwick’s in Newcastle and Colchester and franchises in Europe and the Middle East. The Clinic shifts 90% of purchased stock each month.

Handbag Clinic was founded in 2013 by Charlotte Staerck and her husband Ben, as a spin-off from his leather restoration business, the Furniture Clinic. It now employs almost 30 people, the majority in the North East, and offers a three-year programme to train staff in restoration techniques. It is also working with Durham University to adapt facial recognition technology to authenticate handbags, and assess their condition and value.

Charlotte Staerck said: “Despite the challenging trading conditions within the pandemic, we’ve enjoyed consistent growth and record online sales. We are excited to welcome both Beatrice and Ian onto the Board – their unrivalled knowledge and expertise will add huge value. They share our vision and, together with the new investment, can help us to realise our aggressive growth plans, taking Handbag Clinic to the next level.”

Jan Oosthuizen and Thea Tebble of Mercia worked on the deal. Jan Oosthuizen said: “With sustainability now a central concern for many consumers, the fashion resale market has experienced unprecedented growth in recent years. Handbag Clinic is one of the leaders in the market. This funding will allow Charlotte and the team to build on its position and take the business to the next stage of its development.”

Womble Bond Dickinson LLP provided advice to Mercia whilst Handbag Clinic was represented by Square One Law. Ryecroft Glenton Corporate Finance provided financial due diligence support.

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