By Emma Newlands for the Scotsman
A Borders firm specialising in premium outdoor clothing has opened in Edinburgh this weekend, as it mulls extending its branch network outside Scotland.
Findra founder Alex Feechan said the move came about after considering the option of a pop-up in the city, where she says the firm has customers who have gone out of their way to visit its shop in Innerleithen.
The firm launched in 2014 and opened its first retail space last year in the Borders town, where Feechan says customers appreciated being able to feel its products and try them on.
The opportunity to open on Edinburgh’s Henderson Row came up “and we just felt it was a great place to be because we know we’ve got a strong customer base there… and we can speak directly to the customer, which gives us great feedback.
“It’s an exciting step and it’s one that’s been part of the vision right from the start,” Feechan added, and will see the firm’s headcount of eight grow to ten. It will also let Findra test how the site progresses as a retail space, its customer interaction, “and whether it’s something we can do more of in other places”.
Feechan, an AccelerateHER Award winner in 2016, stresses that any such expansion would not be until next year as the firm focuses on measured growth, but some locations have been mooted. “We have a lot of interest from our direct customers in different locations in the UK who want to be part of what we do and that is definitely something that I am very keen to look at.”
The business has already been busy this year, broadening from its original female focus to a men’s collection, a new product range, and a new website with direct selling a key part of its activity. It has also expanded its team in Innerleithen.
With all that in place, “we’re now really wanting to focus on growing sales, really getting the brand out there”, says Feechan.
A key priority is export opportunities to North America, “and just seeing where can go from there”.
The business late last year secured a second-round investment of £250,000 to develop its offering, supported again by Tri Capital, Investing Women Angels and the Scottish Investment Bank. Feechan says such investment “has enabled us to do a great deal”, with the focus now on propelling Findra via sales and revenue growth.
She launched the business after perceiving that other kit available was out of touch with what female consumers were looking for. Fusing her interest in the outdoors with her background in fashion and textiles, she then worked hard to come up with a solution.
The firm has achieved 40 per cent year-on-year turnover growth. “We want to just continue on that growth curve,” she says.