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The resale marketplace that PrettyLittleThing announced in February has finally launched with the UK being its first market. Called simply MarketPlace, it sells both PLT pieces and other brands.

The pre-loved app is now online and PrettyLittleThing customers who want to sell via the marketplace can access it from their existing PLT orders “meaning easy functionality to upload their old PLT wardrobe straight onto the selling platform”.

The company said: “We listened to our customers, and they are mindful of the life of a garment and want to be able to resell items that they no longer wear, and so we are creating PrettyLittleThing MarketPlace as a community platform for our customers new and old to join. We have taken steps to simplify the resale process, encouraging more people to join the ‘PLTLoved’ movement and give items they no longer want in their wardrobe a new lease of life.”

Phase one of the platform includes functions such as that existing account sync, PLT and non-PLT listings, wish lists, message centre, image recognition and text filtering, verified users and PayPal integration. Phase two will include allowing users to leave reviews for sellers, subscription service, PLT store credit as a payment method and transactional push notifications.

The app will also hit the US relatively soon as PLT becomes the latest retailer to move very quickly in the burgeoning resale space.

MarketPlace was built by its in-house development team with over 200 staff members running internal testing ahead of launch and sharing their own experiences of using both the buying and selling features.

The brand’s creative director, celebrity Molly-Mae Hague, had said back in February that the company wanted to disrupt the fashion industry with a move that wouldn’t be expected from PLT.

It could also be seen as a response to criticism levelled at the fast-fashion sector for its throwaway approach and the vast amount of waste that it generates.

And as well as boosting PLT’s sustainability credentials and resonating with eco-minded shoppers, it comes at an ideal time given the current cost-of-living crisis. Consumers this autumn will be seeking to recycle unwanted fashion and generating some spare cash when doing so is likely to be appealing.

US fintech Block, co-founded by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, is adding buy now, pay later (BNPL) services for UK customers via an integration with subsidiary Clearpay.

Block’s flagship product Square provides business management software, largely to retail companies, offering ecommerce tools and embedded financial services.

Now the US company is entering the crowded UK BNPL space through a partnership with Clearpay, known outside of Europe as Afterpay. Block, formerly known as Square, acquired the UK-based firm in January, with the intention of integrating its BNPL functionality.

Square will offer BNPL services via Clearpay as part of its suite of services to clients in the UK, allowing both in-store and online BNPL purchases.

“The integration across platforms furthers our goal to give sellers of all sizes omnichannel tools that help them to grow by meeting consumer shopping habits, whatever and wherever they are,” said Alyssa Henry, head of Square.

“Clearpay provides our ecosystem with a new tool beyond an alternative payment method; it enables an omnichannel commerce solution that can offer true value to our sellers.”

BNPL is a payment method that splits the cost of purchases into smaller amounts that are paid over a longer period.

The popularity of BNPL purchasing has skyrocketed since the pandemic, reaching $120bn (£95bn) globally last year.

While a number of BNPL-focused fintech companies including Klarna and Zilch have found success, Square’s integration of Clearpay is the latest example of an established tech company entering the BNPL space.

Apple, Revolut, and Zopa are some of the companies that have or incorporated or plan to incorporate BNPL into their existing services.

Despite its soaring popularity among consumers, BNPL has become polarising among regulators and consumer protection groups because it is a largely unregulated credit service.

The concern stems from the risk of consumers taking on unmanageable debt through BNPL purchases that might not show up on their credit score.

The government has outlined plans to regulate BNPL, following calls from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). However, it is unclear when legislation will be brought to make the new regulations official.

That neutral status may not last, however, as Farfetch will have the option to acquire the remainder of YNAP.

The deal has massive implications both for YNAP and for Richemont's own labels. In practical terms it means YNAP will adopt Farfetch Platform Solutions “to advance growth and shift towards a hybrid [retail-marketplace] business model”. Richemont’s own brands will also adopt the Platform Solutions tech “to advance the realisation of their Luxury New Retail (LNR) vision”.

Those brands — including AZ FactoryBaume & MercierCartierChloéDunhillJaeger-LeCoultreMontblanc, Van Cleef & Arpels and more — will open e-concessions on the Farfetch Marketplace.

It’s a massive development that has been in negotiation for some time, and in announcing the deal, Richemont, Farfetch and Alabbar (through Symphony Global, one of the investment vehicles of Mohamed Alabbar) called it a “landmark transaction towards the digitalisation of the luxury industry”.

Richemont said it “represents a significant step in achieving [our] vision of making YNAP a neutral industry-wide platform, and lays a path towards Farfetch potentially acquiring the remaining shares in YNAP, bringing together these highly complementary businesses. The partnership also marks a step change in Richemont Maisons’ omnichannel distribution capabilities”.

As well as Richemont having a giant outlet to reach customers with its brands, the deal will boost Farfetch’s watches and jewellery offering.

Farfetch said the announcement highlights that its platform is “well-positioned to deliver end-to-end capabilities for the luxury industry, and [it] envisions further collaboration on innovative technology solutions to be made available to luxury brands and retailers to meet the increasing omnichannel demands of the luxury customer”.

NEW BUSINESS MODEL

The partners said that with YNAP (which includes Yoox, The Outnet, Net-A-Porter and Mr Porter) adopting the Farfetch tech, it will “significantly advance the rollout of YNAP’s marketplace offering, as Farfetch’s platform is already connected with the inventory of many of YNAP’s luxury brand partners”.

YNAP has aced challenges for some time and its move towards a hybrid business model will be more asset-light, “complementing [its] first-party curated inventory ownership with a third-party e-concession/marketplace offer”. This is expected to “improve YNAP’s financial performance while customers, in turn, will enjoy an enriched shopping experience”.

It’s a complex deal and as mentioned, YNAP will initially have no controlling shareholder and there will be no requirement for Farfetch to consolidate it at this stage.

But the companies are clearly interweaving parts of their businesses very closely. On completion of the sale of 47.5% of YNAP’s share capital to Farfetch, Richemont will receive Farfetch shares adding up to 10%-11% of the fully diluted share capital of that business. Richemont will also receive $250 million, expected to be settled in shares.

YNAP will be left debt-free and will have almost $300 million in cash on its balance sheet, while Richemont “will make available, for up to 10 years, a committed credit facility for $450 million that YNAP may draw upon at its discretion, subject to certain conditions”.

And what’s Alabbar’s role in all of this? It’s Richemont and YNAP’s longstanding partner in the key Gulf States and so will become a minority shareholder in YNAP in exchange for its shares in the joint venture with YNAP in the Gulf Cooperation Council region. It means YNAP will own 100% of its business in the region. 

Following the announcement, Richemont’s investment in YNAP will be classified as an asset ‘held for sale’ and YNAP’s results will be presented as discontinued operations in Richemont’s consolidated interim financial statements for the six months ending 30 September.

YNAP will now be governed by a board of seven directors, with three representatives of each of Richemont and Farfetch and one representative of Alabbar.

Johann Rupert, Chairman of Richemont, said: “Today’s announcement is a significant step towards the realisation of a dream I first voiced in 2015 of building an independent, neutral online platform for the luxury industry that would be highly attractive to both luxury brands and their discerning clientele. We knew back then that if we wished to control our own destiny and protect the uniqueness of the luxury industry as it was digitalised, we would need to collaborate as the task was too big to undertake on our own.

“Farfetch’s sophisticated technology will enable Richemont Maisons to benefit from the best route to market and realise their Luxury New Retail vision, while implementing a hybrid model at YNAP will greatly enhance its prospects.”

Discovery Education, a Silver Spring, MD-based edtech company, acquired DoodleLearning, a United Kingdom-based provider of Math and English Language Arts products.

The amount of the deal was not disclosed.

The acquisition expands Discovery Education’s digital product suite in Math and ELA, and strengthens the UK presence.

Led by CEO Nicola Chilman and COO Tom Minor, DoodleLearning provides products supporting instruction in Math and English Language Arts for grades Pre-K to 9. The products, which create personalized learning experiences that help improve students’ academic achievement and confidence, have been used by over one million children in the U.K. and around the world.

As part of the Discovery Education family of services, DoodleLearning will continue to apply its educational ability to building and deploying learning solutions for students worldwide.

Led by Chief Executive Officer Scott Kinney and backed by Clearlake Capital Group, L.P., Discovery Education is the worldwide edtech leader whose digital platform supports learning wherever it takes place. Through its multimedia content, instructional supports, and innovative classroom tools, Discovery Education helps educators deliver equitable learning experiences engaging all students and supporting higher academic achievement on a global scale. The company serves approximately 4.5 million educators and 45 million students worldwide, and its resources are accessed in over 100 countries and territories.

DoodleLearning complements Discovery Education’s digital services, which include Discovery Education’s K-12 platform, Mystery Science, STEM Connect, and the MathScience, and Social Studies Techbooks.

Probo Medical, a Tampa, Fla.-based global provider of medical imaging equipment, parts, repair, and service, acquired Mi Healthcare, a Liverpool, England, UK-based provider of medical imaging equipment and services to public and private healthcare facilities.

The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

With the acquisition of Mi Healthcare, Probo will extend the reach of its diagnostic imaging equipment sales, rentals and service capabilities throughout the UK.

Established in 1995 and led by Tim Dickinson and Mark Edwards, Mi Healthcare provides medical imaging equipment and services to public and private healthcare facilities across the UK. Its team provides ultrasound and x-ray sales, rental and service solutions across the UK with offices in both England and Scotland.

Led by Michael Asmer, CEO, Probo Medical is a diversified supplier of refurbished diagnostic imaging equipment sales, service, rental, repair and installation of a vast array of imaging equipment, including ultrasound, c-arm, x-ray, mammography, fluoroscopy, MRI and CT. The company is backed by Avista Capital Partners, a New York-based private equity firm with more than 40 growth-oriented healthcare businesses globally.

Ted Baker has been snapped up by Reebok owner, US-based Authentic Brands Group, in a £211 million deal.

The pair have reached an agreement for the all-cash deal, which pays out 110p-a-share, substantially less than the 160p touted earlier this year. However, it is 18.2% more than the 93.1p that Ted Baker, which is listed in London, is trading at currently.

The Ted Baker board will unanimously recommend that shareholders vote in favour of the deal.

Authentic Brands Group (ABG) founder, chairman and CEO Jamie Salter said: “Ted Baker is a highly regarded, uniquely British brand whose strong fashion credibility resonates with consumers around the world.

“We are excited to build on the brand’s global foundation through a business model focused on licensing, wholesale, retail, digital and strategic marketing partnerships. Under ABG’s ownership, we believe that Ted Baker is poised for continued growth and success.“

READ MORE: Ted Baker cashflow under pressure as it trades without credit insurance

Ted Baker interim chair Helena Feltham said: “The Ted Baker board believes the offer, which is supported by Ted Baker shareholders with a majority of shares, represents a fair value for shareholders and balances the company’s growth prospects with the risks of the uncertain economic environment in which the business is operating.”

“The Ted Baker board believes that ABG will be a strong and supportive owner of the business. We are confident that with ABG’s experience, reach and investment, the Ted Baker brand will be capable of achieving its long-term global potential.”

ABG, which was understood to have pulled out of the race to buy Ted Baker in June, said it is well positioned to accelerate growth and enhance Ted Baker’s value. 

The firm said: “ABG intends to use its global network of established operating partners with deep industry expertise, together with its business model that combines leading brand management capabilities, to enhance Ted Baker’s revenue and profitability across merchandise categories and geographic regions as it has for other acquired brands including Reebok, Brooks Brothers, Nautica, and Eddie Bauer.”

It plans to restructure the business to “maximise its future potential”.

It would separate Ted Baker into an intellectual property holding company, which ABG would control, while one or more operating companies would manage the retail, ecommerce and wholesale operations of the brand.

ABG believes there are “significant growth opportunities” for Ted Baker in North America.  The firm may potentially combine Ted Baker’s operations with those of Sparc, a retail, ecommerce and wholesale joint venture that it has with regional shopping mall and outlet operator Simon Property Group.

ABG owns more than 50 consumer and entertainment brands, including Juicy Couture, Forever 21 and David Beckham. It has more than 8,500 stores and shop-in-shops and its brands collectively turn over more than $21 billion in annual global retail sales.

The group, which counts CVC Capital Partners, BlackRock, General Atlantic, and Lion Capital as shareholders, is valued at $13 billion.

London-based virtual reality (VR) startup FundamentalVR has secured $20m (£16.3m) in funding for its immersive medical training tech.

Founded in 2012, FundamentalVR has developed a medical simulation platform that combines VR and haptic feedback to give training surgeons a way to practice procedures.

FundamentalVR claims its tech can accurately mimic the sights, sounds, and physical touch of real surgery.

As well as further developments to its tech platform, FundamentalVR will use the new funding to expand its business geographically, with a focus on the US.

“Our platform can conduct a walkthrough of a procedure through to a full operation, facilitating surgical skills transfer,” said co-founder and chief executive Richard Vincent.

“Our immersive environments transform surgical skills acquisition in a scalable, low-cost, multiuser way. We are excited to scale our vision of creating a medical education environment unhindered by borders.”

The investment was led by EQT Life Sciences, a health tech-focused investment firm established in 2022 by the private equity company EQT Partners. Previous investor Downing Ventures also participated in the Series B round.

“With increasingly complex surgical procedures, it is important to provide medical professionals with new methods for surgical skills transfer and continued training and education while managing both the cost and time burden associated with these activities,” said Drew Burdon, partner at EQT Life Sciences.

“HapticVRTM is a differentiated approach which has already been adopted by a number of high-quality customers, in a short period of time, demonstrating the value that this system can add today”.

As part of the investment deal, Burdon has joined the board of directors for FundamentalVR.

The Series B round has brought the total funding raised by the company to $30m (£24.5m), following a £4.3m Series A round led by Downing Ventures in October 2019.

FundamentalVR has also partnered with notable medical institutions, including the Mayo Clinic and Sana Kliniken.

It follows a record year for British VR funding, with startups raising £154m in 2021.

Patchwork Health, a London, UK-based healthcare workforce platform, raised £20m in Series B funding.

The round was led by Perwyn and backed by Praetura Ventures and KHP Ventures. They were joined by a range of prominent angel investors, including Monzo founder Tom Blomfield and Social Chain Co-founder Dominic McGregor.

The company intends to use the funds to continue to:

  • further strengthen their customer-facing teams,
  • accelerate the development of new products and features for their healthcare clients,
  • expand into international markets, and
  • bring their services to new areas of health and a wider range of sectors.

Founded in 2016 by NHS medics Dr Anas Nader and Dr Jing Ouyang, Patchwork Health offers a range of additional solutions, including:

  • ‘collaborative staff banks’, which help healthcare organisations team up with others in the same region to widen their temporary staffing pool;
  • an innovative new rostering solution which enables more flexible, sustainable staffing for permanent healthcare staff; and
  • an Agency Manager which makes it easier for managers to select appropriate temporary staff from external agencies when necessary.

Patchwork Insights also provides managers with comprehensive data oversight, to monitor staffing trends, shift fill rates and pay rate escalations, and reliably plan ahead to prevent staffing gaps.

The company has a team of over 100.

Patchwork Health has raised £20m in a Series B funding round for its digital platform that lets NHS teams recruit, manage and dispatch both temporary and permanent healthcare workers.

Founded in 2016 by medics, Patchwork aims to relieve the strain on health and care workers in the NHS, which has one of the worst rates of worker stress and burnout due to increased demand and limited staffing.

“NHS staffing isn’t working for NHS staff, but it can be fixed with the right tools,” claims Patchwork co-founder and CEO Dr Anas Nader.

The company provides NHS organisations with a pool of temporary staff that can be custom selected to meet the specific demands of each clinic. Patchwork also provides data to NHS managers to monitor staffing trends and pay rates.

For permanent staff members, Patchwork’s platform can be used to specify personal needs and preferences for staff rotas.

“Our solution gives the NHS the power to make this sustainable staffing a reality, whilst improving staffing levels and safeguarding the quality of patient care,” Nader said.

The Series B round was led by Perwyn, with further backing from existing investor Praetura Ventures, KHP Ventures, and a host of angel investors, including Monzo founder Tom Blomfield.

“The traditional way of staffing our NHS is outdated and is contributing to the pressures our health service is facing,” said Martin le Huray, a partner at Perwyn.

“We believe that Patchwork is well on its way to playing a pivotal role in creating a stronger, more sustainable healthcare system for future generations.”

Patchwork previously raised £3m in a Praetura-led funding round in February 2020.

The funding for Patchwork follows several other funding rounds in the UK digital health tech space, including Suvera, a virtual care platform that raised £5m last month, and Cera Care Limited, which raised £263m last week.

KatKin, a London, UK-based direct-to-consumer health and fresh cat food brand, raised $22m in Series A funding.  

The round was co-led by Perwyn and Verlinvest, which joined Octopus Ventures and angels.

The company intends to use the funds to expand operations and its business reach.

Led by co-founders and siblings Brett and Nikki O’Farrell, KatKin is a cat food brand featuring fresh recipes formulated by a Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionist® to meet the biological needs of cats. Each recipe uses 100% human-grade meat, that’s gently steam cooked and then frozen fresh, featuring 0% fillers, grains or preservatives. KatKin also controls its entire supply chain, from UK sourcing to carbon-neutral shipping, making sure its fresh cat food is free from any risks associated with mass production.