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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
Jon Robinson

I Saw It First: How fashion brand worn by Love Island stars with Boohoo links followed in Missguided's footsteps

This week brought the news that another of Manchester's online fashion brands had been snapped up by one of the UK's largest retail groups. Frasers Group, the giant whose chief executive was Mike Ashley until very recently, has acquired I Saw It First for a currently undisclosed sum.

As a listed company, Frasers Group is likely to reveal the exact sum at some point in the future. Regardless, the news means that a second online fashion brand headquartered in Manchester has been bought by the owner of Sports Direct and House of Fraser in the space of as many months.

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It now joins a stable of brands owned by the group that also includes Game, Jack Wills and Evans Cycles. I Saw It First also follows in the footsteps of Manchester-based Missguided which was rescued out of administration by Frasers Group at the start of June in a £20m deal.

I Saw It First is headquartered in Manchester (I Saw It First)

In a statement announcing its latest deal, Frasers said: "I Saw It First will benefit from the strength and scale of Frasers Group's platform and from the integration with Frasers' recently acquired business, Missguided."

The Founder

I Saw It First was set up in 2017 by Jalal Kamani, the brother of Boohoo co-founder Mahmud Kamani. He was a founding director of Manchester-based Boohoo and previously served as its trading director.

But he also has a range of other business interests and in 2018 he invested a six-figure sum in Manchester-based fashion and footwear agency Crème Creative, taking a 50% stake.

Launched by Emma Nattrass-Daniels and her wife Katie, in January 2017, the former Boohoo staff had a roster of clients including Footasylum, New Balance, Lacoste, Mallet Footwear and Koi Footwear.

According to documents filed with Companies House, Mr Kamani sold his shares in boxing gym Fight Factory Manchester at the start of June. But he remains a director of a range of companies including J&L (Leic) ltd, Lotd Limited, West Didsbury Living, Jogo Estates, Castle Yard Management Company and The Pinstripe Investment Company.

Love Island

I Saw It First hit national headlines two years after being founded when it became an official partner of hit ITV show Love Island. According to the broadcaster, that deal helped the fashion brand add 250,000 new customers.

Molly-Mae Hague is among the influencers who have worn I Saw It First products (ITV)

I Saw It First previously said it had around three million customers but its new owner has claimed that number has now swelled to more than five million. In May this year, Glasgow influencer Molly McFarlane was unveiled as the face behind a new bridal collection for the fashion label.

Other famous faces to have worn I Saw It First's clothes include Molly-Mae Hague.

The Boardroom

Ahead of being acquired, there has been change at the top of the business over the last year as chief technology and logistics officer Andrew Stevenson-Thorpe, chief financial officer Mo Marzouk and director Shahzad Irshad have all left.

Former Matalan deputy CEO Greg Pateras has also recently become its first chief executive while Jalal Kamani became chairman. From a finance point of view, I Saw It First reported sales of almost £75m for its latest financial year but its pre-tax losses totalled £7.7m.

UK sales increased from £50.9m to £69.3m in the year but EU turnover fell from £5.7m to £4.5m and from £1m to £915,000 in the rest of the world.


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