Cass Art inks investment from Business Growth Fund to grow outside London

The Business Growth Fund has now injected £57 million into London and the South East since its establishment in 2011.

Art materials retailer Cass Art has closed a £3.2 million investment led by the bank-backed Business Growth Fund (BGF).

Having first begun business as a shop on Kensington High Street in 2001, Cass Art will now begin a roll out of new stores as well as continue with the development of its e-commerce platform.

The deal marks the 11th time that the BGF has added a business from London and the South East to its portfolio and is its third new investment during December.

Mark Cass, CEO of Cass Art, previously set up Image Bank UK with is father in 1979 before selling it to Getty Images in 2000.

‘We already have a very loyal creative customer base, a great management team, a workforce of creative and dedicated staff, stores in key locations in London and now the e-commerce capability,’ Cass explains.

‘But we need to expand beyond London and connect with all the UK’s creative communities. [BGF’s] financing and the additional expertise they bring to us as a partner investor will help us take our mission out of London to the whole nation.’

Away from its maiden site on Kensington High Street, Cass Art now has locations in Hampstead, Charing Cross, Kingston, Soho and in Islington –through its flagship store.

Cass Art cites findings which suggest that enrolment in an arts course at university grew by 25 per cent between 2004 and 2010 as evidence of ‘considerable opportunity’. It hopes to capitalise on what it describes as a ‘highly fragmented’ market.

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To coincide with the investment, the former chairman of Hamleys, ex-managing director and deputy chairman of The Body Shop and past chairman of Agent Provocateur will be joining Cass Art as non-executive chairman. Stuart Rose was recruited through the BGF’s Talent Network.

Rory Pope, investment director at BGF and new board member at Cass Art, comments, ‘The company has a good high street presence in London already but there is clearly the scope and ambition to expand nationally not only their physical presence on the high street but also online via the new e-commerce platform and become the only multi-channel art retailer in the UK.

‘For all these reasons, Cass Art is a highly attractive business for us to support and we are delighted to be working with Mark and his team.’

The BGF has now backed 39 companies in 17 sectors, including its two recent December commitments involving Duncan & Todd and The Exchange Lab.

See also: Our exclusive Business Growth Fund roundtable:

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter was the Editor for from 2012 to 2014, before moving on to Caspian Media Ltd to be Editor of Real Business.

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