North East Venture Fund

The Handbag Clinic raises new funding to drive tech innovation

 The Handbag Clinicthe Newcastle-based luxury handbag restoration and preowned designer bag retailer – has raised a significant investment from the North East Venture Fund, supported by the European Regional Development Fund and managed by Mercia Ventures, and a private investor.

The funding will enable the company to accelerate its growth in the UK and internationally, creating at least ten new jobs in 2024, and enhance its technology, including the addition of AI and microscopic imagery to support its skilled team of authenticators.

Through its network of stores and worldwide shipping infrastructure, The Handbag Clinic is currently the largest global operation for restoration and repairs and the only fully circular platform of its type. The company, which restores over 700 bags each month, has partnerships with leading luxury brands including Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Bvlgari, Celine, Radley, Ugg and Christies and has recently secured permanent in-store concessions within Harrods and Selfridges.

The Handbag Clinic combines restoration with authentication and resale and is the only ‘recommerce’ brand to offer a full warranty on preloved items. It also offers a buy back scheme and a unique aftercare plan enabling customers to maintain the condition of their items.

Founded in 2013 by Charlotte and Ben Staerck, The Handbag Clinic now employs 55 staff and is on course to increase turnover from £1.6m to £3m in the current financial. During the 12 months to October 2023, average monthly ecommerce revenues doubled from £160,000 to £325,000.

As part of the deal, it has also strengthened its board with three key appointments. Tracy Lewis, who joins as Chair, has held senior roles with brands including Wacoal, Marks & Spencer, Eylure and Bluebella lingerie. Will Chalk, Chief Technical Officer, is a marketing and data analytics consultant with experience working with luxury brands, while John Cunningham, Customer Service and Operations Manager, is the former Aftersales Manager for Chanel.

The Handbag Clinic’s CEO and Co-Founder, Charlotte Staerck, said: “It’s been an incredible year for us at The Handbag Clinic and we’re excited that, with this capital injection and our new Board members, we can realise our ambitious growth plans. Tracy, Will and John are exceptionally talented – their unrivalled knowledge and expertise will add huge value as we take the business to the next level.”

The funding is the fourth round from Mercia Ventures and the NEVF, which first invested in the business in 2021.

Ian Wilson of Mercia Ventures said:With sustainability a key issue for luxury fashion brands and consumers, the resale market continues to grow. The Handbag Clinic has established itself as the trusted aftercare service for the biggest luxury brands. This latest investment will help the company to continue its growth trajectory and pursue its ambition to become the leading global authority for preloved handbags.”