Retail technology company Metail has closed a £10 million Series B funding round to scale operations and expand its presence in Asia – one of the world’s fastest growing retail markets.
Cambridge alumnus Tom Adeyoola, founder and CEO of the business, established the head office in London and retained a tech office in St Andrew’s Street in Cambridge. The CEO, along with R & D guru and co-founder Duncan Robertson, initiated the venture after leveraging breakthroughs in advanced computer vision technology from Cambridge University.
The Series B round was led by TAL, Hong Kong based global leader in garment manufacturing, estimated to make one in six men’s dress shirts in the USA. TAL remains one of the main investors in Metail after it led the previous round in 2014. This fresh injection of capital is in addition to the £12.5m already raised since Adeyoola founded the company in 2008.
With an existing 7.7 million customers, the investment will expand Metail’s global presence and the funds will be used to scale its operations.
On the commercial side, Metail is concentrating efforts in Europe and Asia, one of the early adopters of technology in retail. In terms of research and development, Metail is continuing advancement of its cutting edge technology focused on revolutionising the retail supply chain.
Metail’s aim is to make clothing fit for all by digitising every garment for every body to try on. Its patented technology enables customers to try on clothes online before they buy, reducing returns for retailers and improving the customer experience.
Retailers are said to be wasting an estimated 80 per cent ex-factory margin through inefficiencies in the traditional supply chain, which Metail is seeking to transform.
Metail’s technology has been proven by Kellogg School of Management to boost sales by 22 per cent and reduce returns by five per cent, ensuring that when a purchase is made it is more likely to remain with the customer. To date the company has digitised 80,000 garments and has nine patents granted and 22 pending.
At a time of uncertainty for investment into UK tech companies, an inward investment of this scale from Asia enables Metail to continue to power the virtual fitting room of partner retailers including ABOF in India and Princess Polly in Australia.
UK companies are a primary target for Asian investment, with GP Bullhound highlighting 30 deals worth a disclosed value of $37.4 billion since 2014.
Adeyoola said: “These funds set us in great stead for our mission to become the Google of size and shape. The Asian focus on innovation in the fashion supply chain has meant that TAL has looked to Metail to provide breakthrough technology for garment digitisation and data collection. I’m incredibly excited about Metail’s next stage of growth.”
Delman Lee, president and CTO of TAL added: “We are delighted to lead the investment in Metail, and believe in their vision to disrupt the whole fashion supply chain.
“Metail has some of the most advanced technology in this area and its unique dataset leads to a number of transformative applications for the whole garment supply chain, ultimately leading to clothes that fit the customer better.”
Metail’s ‘try it on’ online shopping experience enables consumers to create a bespoke 3D model of themselves. The technology can be incorporated into any ecommerce platform and the company’s operations are able to photograph and digitise over 200 garments per studio per day facilitating work with mass market high volume retailers.
After entering a few simple measurements consumers can generate a MeModel, which is 92-96 per cent accurate to their specific size.
Since a breakthrough deal with Tesco, the company has developed an international client base, spanning House of Holland in the UK, ABOF in India, Princess Polly in Australia, Tangs in Singapore and FFL in Taiwan, as well as a 2017 partnership with Kolon in South Korea via their technology arm, Benit.
Metail created a world exclusive when collaborating with House of Holland for their London Fashion Week show in September 2014. For the first time ever, consumers could watch the catwalk show in real time and try on and pre-order the outfits as they were revealed for the first time on the catwalk models.
Based across four offices in London, Cambridge, Singapore and now South Korea, Metail has built a talented and dedicated team of 62 employees including 13 PHDs.
• Photograph shows Metail co-founder and CEO Tom Adeyoola. Image courtesy – Metail