Scotland business

The online fashion firm taking on the 'big boys'

Michael Welch Image copyright Stewart Attwood
Image caption Michael Welch has been searching for "the best" independent boutiques in the UK and Europe

The businessman behind a growing Edinburgh-based online fashion company is planning to go up against the world's biggest clothing retailers.

Michael Welch, founder of Atterley, said there were "no limits" to its growth in the next few years.

The company's expansion has come during a time of huge growth for online fashion sales.

Mr Welch is concentrating on working with independent clothing retailers, and plans to develop his own label.

Atterley has secured a multi-million dollar investment from London-Hong Kong clothing manufacturer and design house PDS Multinational Group.

'Changing times'

Mr Welch hopes to compete against the likes of online luxury fashion retailer Farfetch, which sells sells clothing from firms like Gucci and Burberry.

"We're in a time of change in terms of retail and fashion," said Mr Welch.

"The small guys, consolidated under one online brand umbrella, can compete against the big guys.

"We anticipate that, the way we've set this up, Atterley could be competing with some of the biggest names in fashion retail, online particularly."

The explosion in online retailers selling cheaper clothes has fuelled concern about "fast fashion" - the trend which has seen more discarded clothes piling up in landfill sites.

And the competition has seen some heavily discounting their products, which led one of the best-known industry names, Asos, to issue a surprise profit warning last month.

Image copyright Jane Barlow
Image caption Atterley says there are "no limitations" to its potential to grow

Mr Welch said those companies still carried stock and distributed it in a traditional way, adding : "They've got huge warehouses stuffed full of inventory - you're always going to be susceptible to downturns in consumer spending because you've got to keep the cash flow moving.

"Within Atterley, we're leveraging the stock that's on the shelves of the independent boutiques so, at any one time, we've got a full inventory of stock but nothing stocked in a warehouse of our own."

Mr Welch said he aimed to grow the business by continuing to recruit the best boutiques from the UK and Europe.

"Our big customer growth that we're seeing is coming out of the US - which is a little bit of a surprise for us.

"We're really focusing on the US and English-speaking markets primarily across the world.

"We're not burning cash to try and grow sales, we're doing things in a responsible way."

Mr Welch said: "I see over the next couple of years, no limitations to the growth of Atterley. It's really exciting times for the team."

You can hear more about this story this morning on the BBC's Good Morning Scotland radio programme.

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