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Formal hirewear company accepts £8.6m BGF funding

BGF News 01.16.2014

Europe’s largest independent supplier of formal hirewear, ACS Clothing, will be expanding its operations and investing in its multichannel offering for its retail partners with a £8.5m investment of growth capital from BGF.

BGF, the independent company established to help the UK’s growing businesses, is investing £8.5m in ACS Clothing and its bespoke software business Xedo, to support the growth of its e-commerce capabilities. BGF has taken a minority stake.

ACS Clothing was established in Glasgow in 1997 by Richard Freedman and his father, Joseph, who had a menswear store in the city, Gilt-Edged, that remains part of the business today.  Richard wanted to introduce formal hirewear to his father’s business to cater for his university friends’ need to look presentable at social gatherings and the new service immediately took off.

The business soon expanded initially focussing on the hire of highland wear to the Scottish market, before expanding into formalwear and evening wear across the UK. ACS Clothing has exclusive supplier agreements with retailers including Debenhams, Austin Reed, Greenwoods, Slaters Menswear and Burton as well as its own brand Cameron Ross. The business went on to acquire Blackburn-based, Etiquette Formal Hire, in April 2011, consolidating its entire operation into ACS’ premises.

Located in purpose-built facilities spanning 190,000 sq ft at Eurocentral, just outside Glasgow, the £11.5m business employs around 100 people.  ACS stocks more than three million garments and processed in the region of 400,000 UK orders during

2013, with the wedding season being the period of highest demand. Stock control and garment sorting is completely automated using bespoke technology created by Durkopp allowing ACS to sort and process 5,000 items simultaneously. All garment dry cleaning and maintenance is carried out on the premises.

The Xedo Software business provides a range of software products to the hire and wedding industries including a retail order management system that connects ACS Clothing and Xedo customers direct to its inventory, providing electronic ordering of hirewear. BGF’s funding will be utilised to expand Xedo’s SortMyWeddingOutfit website where all members of the bridal party can find a solution to every aspect of the wedding day no matter where they are located.