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Things are looking good for Highland beauty business after it secures £25k loa


By Calum MacLeod

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Bubu chief executive and founder Marianne Morrison.
Bubu chief executive and founder Marianne Morrison.

An online beauty business based in the Highlands is on target to achieve its international ambitions after securing a £25,000 funding loan from Scottish responsible finance provider, DSL Business Finance Ltd.

DSL’s investment will help independent skincare brand, bubu, to acquire the necessary stock it needed to take its products to the market.

The funding provided the start-up brand with the means to solidify its business operation with a view to fast international growth.

Alness-based bubu launched in November 2019 in an exclusive partnership with popular UK fashion retailer Pretty Little Thing.

Despite Covid-19, bubu remains on a strong growth path, hiring three new employees during lockdown and is currently preparing to open a new working warehouse and laboratory space in the Highlands.

Founder and chief executive Marianne Morrison (36) said: “Being a small company has allowed us to sustain the business during the pandemic and we have even been fortunate enough that we are in a position to grow, with our focus being on online retail. We have been fortunate to have the support of DSL and our funding partners during a historically challenging period.

“Our online business is now in a stable position and over the next 12 months we will be looking to balance that with an in-store offering. Over the Christmas period we trialled a pop up store which was really successful.

"Unfortunately, due to the circumstances brought about by Covid-19, our retail plans have been put on hold for now, but we have big ambitions for bubu and a variety of new concepts in the pipeline.

“This year has given us the opportunity to bring forward some of our plans. We have branched into body care and make-up sooner than we would have and also had time to focus on the development and manufacturing of our own range, enabling us to bring more products in-house.

“While we will remain a Scottish-based company, our ambitions are to trade internationally as soon as the business landscape allows more certainty.”

Ms Morrison gained expertise in the industry by starting out as a beauty therapist in her teens before going on to work in the oil and gas sector. She co-created a male-focused beauty range of her own, Stoer Skincare, which was sold through customers including Harvey Nichols and Virgin Atlantic, before selling the business to technology based company, Integumen, allowing her to concentrate on female range bubu.

“My business plan was never straightforward due to the many variables that come with an early-stage company, coupled with a highly competitive landscape and the challenge of operating from the Highlands," she said.

"Raising funds to support an ambitious business plan in any climate is always a challenge, no matter what stage a company is at. However, most funders take a risk view of early-stage finance and there is a huge gap here to fill."

DSL Business Finance executive director Stuart Yuil.
DSL Business Finance executive director Stuart Yuil.

She praised DSL and in particular its Black Isle-based loan officer Murray Marshall for taking time to understand her business.

"Rather than the usual automated, tick-list approaches, DSL take time to understand your business model, reasons for rationale behind the figures, and see the opportunity, allowing early-stage companies like bubu access to essential finance in a sensible format to benefit both parties,” she commented.

Mr Marshall said: “Marianne is a very driven individual who knows the industry well and presented us with a realistic plan and the information to back up her assumptions. She surrounded herself with the required individuals to give her the best chance of success and was willing to take on board advice. Her case and vision filled us with confidence and we were delighted that we could support her plans.”

Stuart Yuill, executive director at DSL Business Finance, added: “Not only from looking at the overall business plan for bubu, but also looking at Marianne’s background of extensive beauty and business experience, we knew she was an excellent candidate for financial support through the Scottish Growth Scheme.”



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