Business owner Vicky Whiter secured over £500,000 of new equity investment for her East Midlands company Peters’ Cleaners through a syndicate of three finance providers, all of whom are signatories of the Investing in Women Code. They are:
- Mercia Asset Management, through the MEIF Proof of Concept & Early Stage Fund which is a regional fund that Mercia manages for the British Business Bank
- Seedrs, the equity crowdfunding platform
- Angel investors, including members of Lincolnshire Business Angels
The purpose of the fundraise was to finance new, automated drop-off and collection points for dry cleaning in shopping centres and railway stations. Vicky developed the concept after buying Peters’ Cleaners, an established dry-cleaning business, and recognising the need to improve efficiency and provide out of hours services. Customers register online and the automated pods enable them to drop off and collect their dry cleaning at any time by simply scanning their membership card.
The company’s first two pods – at Peterborough Station and a local shopping centre – have been popular with customers and the funding enabled the business to install more pods at two other high footfall locations in the area before rolling out the concept across the UK.
Vicky, who held business development roles in Hong Kong, Singapore and London before buying Peters’ Cleaners in 2016, said: “I noticed I was unable to access dry cleaning facilities out of hours and saw a gap in the market. The pods are accessible 24/7, providing the perfect solution. They are a modern approach to a traditional service and are a great addition to our existing stores.
“The dry-cleaning landscape has massively changed over the years, particularly during the pandemic when a lot of companies went out of business. It was time for the industry to introduce new ways to provide customers with cleaning services that fit around their lifestyle. We’re delighted to be the driving force behind this change.”
Sandy Reid of Mercia added: “Dry cleaning is a sector where there has been little or no innovation in years, yet businesses have been struggling with margin erosion as costs have increased. Vicky is a driven and ambitious entrepreneur who we are pleased to back. The pods have been well received by customers and attracted interest from rail operators and shopping centres. The funding will enable her to franchise her model to expand it throughout the UK.”