British online fashion retailer, Adili, attempting to cash in on the growing demand for greener and more ethical clothing, is planning a float on the European
Brands Association (AIM) market within a year after taking its first order.
Adili.com – named after the Swahili word for “ethical” and “just” – intends to raise £1.75m this month through a share placing. The company – which does not have a full year’s audited figures – expects a market capitalisation of some £5.5m.
The company says it wants to work in a way “that gives rather than takes from the planet” and show that the fashion industry “can have dignity, can respect the world around us and can be a way for individuals and communities to trade their way out of poverty”.
The fashion business has faced mounting criticism in recent months as reports have highlighted the poverty wages paid to textile workers in some developing countries by some of the biggest high street names.
Adili sells clothing and accessories from a wide range of ethical brands – such as People Tree, Patagonia, Alchem1st and Terra Plana – and intends to use some of the cash raised to develop an own-label range.
All suppliers must meet, or be “on track to meet”, certain criteria relating to the environment, fair trade and labour standards. Their products must be made from organically grown cotton, recycled materials or other environmentally friendly alternatives such as hemp or bamboo and not be manufactured in “sweat shops”.
Adili, based in Blandford Forum, Dorset, was set up in September last year by a group of online, retail, fashion and environmental specialists. Founder director Quentin Griffiths was also a founder of Asos.com, one of the most successful online fashion groups.
Other founder directors include the former Dixons e-commerce specialist Adam Smith, the chief executive, and Christopher Powles, an accountant and self-proclaimed conservationist, who is finance director.
They still own some 50 per cent of the business, but have been joined in the past year by a number of big retail names who have invested privately, including Luke Mayhew, a former chief executive of the John Lewis department store chain, Peter Davies, the multi-millionaire former boss of the Warehouse fashion chain, and Mike Ellis-Jones, a former boss at Harvey Nichols and Harrods.
Sim Scavazza, a former boss of the Miss Selfridge chain, has joined as creative director and Alan Howarth, a former management consultant with AIM directorships, has been brought in as chairman.
Adili shoppers, said Mr Smith, are aged 25-45 and range from young singles into street culture to Boden-types: “About 40 per cent of our customers are middle Englanders in suburban semis
An AIM listing, Mr Smith said, would help raise the profile of the business and the shares would be used to incentivise staff. He also predicted future consolidation between online retailers, and believes a listing will enable Adili to be predator rather than prey.
An increasing number of established retail executives are migrating into online and ethical-trading jobs. Jane Shepherdson, the former boss of Top Shop and a former Arcadia colleague of Ms Scavazza, is working for People Tree and Julia Reynolds, who helped build Tesco’s £1bn fashion business, quit the grocery group last month to join Figleaves.com, one of the biggest online retailers.