Bridges backs ethical homeware brand Nkuku to support sustainable growth
Bridges is delighted to announce a new partnership with Nkuku, the fast-growing ethical home and lifestyle brand.
Nkuku was founded by Alistair and Alex Cooke in 2003, inspired by a round-the-world trip. It works directly with artisans around the world to create and sell beautifully handmade home and lifestyle products, which combine traditional craftsmanship with sustainable natural materials. The business began by selling via a select group of retail partners; today, it also operates a shop in Totnes, Devon, and sells directly to consumers via its website, Nkuku.com.
Sales of high-quality homeware have seen strong growth over the last year, as the pandemic requirement to stay at home has sparked a ‘nesting’ trend, and Nkuku has experienced rapid online sales growth since upgrading to its current digital platform in 2019. Since people are likely to be spending more time at home post-Covid, this ‘nesting’ trend is likely to continue; and coupled with the broader growth of ecommerce, that means Nkuku’s market is forecast to keep expanding at about 10% per annum in the coming years.
In this growing market, Nkuku’s approach – epitomised by its core values of ‘ethical, eco-friendly, handmade’ – is proving to be an important competitive differentiator, as consumers increasingly seek out ethical and responsible brands. The company’s ethical credentials are ranked as one of the top three key purchasing factors by its customers, alongside the excellence of its product quality and design. This shows that an enhanced focus on sustainability and impact will be vital to Nkuku’s future success.
Bridges is investing in Nkuku via its Sustainable Growth Funds, which partner with high-impact growth companies that can help to build a more inclusive and sustainable economy. Nkuku’s founders – who are re-investing as part of the deal and will continue to lead the business – selected Bridges as their preferred investment partner (as part of a competitive process) because of a clear alignment on strategy, values and impact.
Ali Cooke, Chief Executive at Nkuku, said:
“In the 17 years since we launched Nkuku, we’ve seen consumers become increasingly conscious about the story behind the products they buy. We believe this trend will only accelerate in the next decade, so it felt like the right time to partner with an investor who could help us take the business to the next level. We felt Bridges was a perfect fit for us: they understand and share our values, and they have a very clear vision of how Nkuku can grow while maintaining and indeed strengthening our focus on impact and sustainability.”
Emma Thorne, Investment Director at Bridges Fund Management, said:
“We are hugely excited to be partnering with Ali, Alex and the Nkuku team. We have a real opportunity here not only to grow the business across multiple channels but also to build a best-in-class ESG champion in the homewares sector. Nkuku’s unique approach – the direct relationships it builds with its suppliers, and its commitment to sustainable materials and traditional crafts – is proving to be a strong differentiator in a market that’s growing rapidly. We look forward to working together in the coming years to meet the growing consumer demand for products that are helping to build a better future for people and the planet.”
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