The next size up: how to scale your fashion business

Fashion retail is increasingly competitive, and has had its fair share of high-profile casualties in recent months. But for every fledgling brand that has gone bust, there are those that have successfully scaled up. The right people, proper funding and strong brand values are the key factors in moving from small start-up to booming business. 

Cornish fashion business Seasalt and Kent-based kidswear retailer Childrensalon, for example, both started as single, independently-run shops and now have multi-million-pound turnovers. They have made the leap to become larger businesses with clear organisational structures, loyal customers and, perhaps most importantly, proof that they can sustain profitable growth.

Many newer companies are seeking to make this transition, from fast fashion specialists In The Style and House of CB to womenswear etailer Sosandar.

However, there are several factors that present a challenge for smaller fashion businesses seeking to scale up, says Emma Jones, founder of start-up support network Enterprise Nation and co-chair of the government’s recently formed Small Business, Scale ups and Entrepreneurs Council.

“One is how to find the right talent, manage their recruitment and then motivate them,” she explains. “Another is finance, which involves looking at how much funding is required to scale and whether any extra is required. Production is also a key question, and then there’s how you grow as a leader to manage the financial pressure and requirements of an ever-expanding team. There’s a lot to think about.”

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