Jewellery firm is aiming for €40m in revenues and targets the US market over the next five years
Irish designer Chupi Sweetman’s jewellery brand Chupi is to receive €3.75m investment from a mix of backers including Business Venture Partners (BVP), Abbey Finance and Permanent TSB (PTSB) to accelerate the brand’s global growth.
The investment includes around €2.75m in new equity, with the remainder representing debt provided by PTSB’s business banking division. This marks the first funding round by the jewellery brand which was established in 2013.
BVP, an Irish impact investment fund, alongside Abbey International Finance, will take a minority stake, with Ms Sweetman, her husband Brian Durney and the company’s leadership team retaining a majority stake.
While the equity breakdown was not disclosed, the company confirmed that BVP was the majority investor in the fundraise.
“We went relationship first,” Ms Sweetman told the Irish Independent.
“I’m a little bit more seasoned than many people who are raising for the first time with very young businesses. It wasn’t about a vanity figure of a certain number we wanted to get to on the quantum or on the valuation.”
“It was about finding the right people we wanted to grow with us,” she added.
“We were very impressed with the Chupi team who bring significant experience together of global brands, their senior executive level experience and their focus on sustainable products,” said BVP investment director Stephen Burdock.
“The Chupi investment forms a significant part of our 2022 EIIS [employment and investment incentive scheme] fund portfolio.”
The funds will be used to enhance the brand’s online augmented reality offering that allows shoppers to digitally try on a ring from anywhere in the world.
Expanding the company’s retail footprint is a priority. While Chupi currently has one store located in Powerscourt Townhouse Centre in Dublin, Ms Sweetman is planning to open larger flagships in both Dublin and London next year.
“We’ll also roll out in-store experiences with partners in Ireland and the UK,” she said. “Then we will be looking towards the US over the next five years.”
Chupi plans to invest in blockchain, with the technology enabling the tracking and authentication of diamonds.
The main focus over the next five years is to hit €40m in turnover, “a stretch from where we are but it’s going to be a really exciting journey,” Ms Sweetman said.
The firm’s latest accounts show revenues of €5m.
Chupi, which employs 50 people, manufactures all jewellery here. Each piece is made using 100pc recycled gold, while 80pc of its diamonds are recycled. Costs for rings range between €500 and €25,000.
The company has recorded sales to 280,000 customers across 70 countries around the world.
“Over the weekend, we had a guy who flew in from New York to buy his engagement ring,” she said.
“He had chosen it online, had done his whole customer journey online but wanted to walk in-store and pick it up.”