Mercia Asset Management: Loan to help ‘Trouser Town’ pioneers expand menswear line


Two friends who have decided to put Hebden Bridge back on the map as ‘Trouser Town’ have secured a £125,000 loan from NPIF – Mercia Debt Finance, which is managed by Mercia and is part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF) , to help grow their menswear business.

Brant Richards and Ed Oxley set up HebTroCo in 2016 to supply high quality products from UK manufacturers. The idea was born out of a conversation in a local pub about the history of Hebden Bridge, which at its peak was making 20,000 pairs of trousers a week.

The pair set up a crowdfunding campaign to sell 176 pairs – a week’s output from the city’s last trouser factory. After the entire lot was sold out in five hours, they quit their jobs to start their clothing business.

Brant, former chief designer of the Planet X bicycle company, and Ed, a former massage therapist, didgeridoo instructor and mountain bike guide, now design and order products from factories across the UK.

The range includes woolen jumpers from Yorkshire, blankets woven in Huddersfield, jeans and jackets made in Lancashire and Leicestershire, socks from Aberdeenshire, t-shirts and sweatshirts from Greater Manchester and Greater London shirts and shorts.

Wherever possible, the company also sources raw materials from the UK. It supports local charities and uses only recycled and plastic-free packaging, with goods being shipped to the local post office on e-bikes.

HebTroCo has established a loyal customer base, with around 50% of all sales coming from loyal customers. Clients include TV presenter and author Adrian Chiles. The company has quadrupled its turnover over the past two years to £1.2million at the end of January. It is on track to achieve a further 20% increase in the current fiscal year. Having recently moved to larger premises in Topland Country Business Park, the funding will allow it to create three new jobs, purchase additional inventory and further expand its product line.

Brent Richards said: “Over the past six years we have grown the business and proven that there is a huge appetite for well-made British clothing. This funding will allow us to expand the depth and breadth of our product offering, to grow our business, employ people locally and also support jobs at our supplier factories across the UK.”

David Wright from Mercia added: “Ed and Brant have built a great business that showcases British design and puts sustainability at the heart of how it operates. HebTroCo has grown steadily, but has now reached the stage where it needs external funding to continue growing. It’s great to see this poised to support growth as the business expands its range and sells more made in Britain products.”

Sean Hutchinson of the British Business Bank said: “Since its launch in 2017, the impact of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund on businesses has been significant, providing funds to launch new products, employ new employees, enter new markets and acquire new facilities. We are delighted that the NPIF continues to unlock North’s growth potential by supporting small, growing companies like HebTroCo with vital investments. »

The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund project is financially supported by the European Union through funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) under the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Program 2014-2020 and the European Bank of investment.

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