BGF sees promise in Morphsuits firm AFG Media

The entrepreneurs behind AFG Media, a fancy dress and party fashion business behind Morphsuits, are the latest recipients of equity funding from the Business Growth Fund.

AFG Media founders Gregor Lawson and Fraser and Ali Smeaton in Morphsuits

AFG Media founders Gregor Lawson and Fraser and Ali Smeaton in Morphsuits

The Business Growth Fund (BGF), which is backed by high street banks, has made its fifth investment in the past month by backing AFG Media with £4.2 million in growth capital.

Following on from recent deals involving Springfield Homecare, Seacroft Care Village, Primrose and Cennox, the BGF has decided to support AFG Media's plans to bring new product lines to market and expand its already existing presence in the US and planned penetration into Europe, Mexico, Russ, Japan and China.

AFG Media was established in 2009 by Gregor Lawson and brothers Fraser and Ali Smeaton, all Edinburgh University graduates. The business is driven by Morphsuits, all-in-one skintight lycra costumes which allow to wearer to see others whilst remaining anonymous.

Since the Edinburgh-headquartered company was founded three years ago it has seen revenues grow from £1.2 million in 2010 to £11 million in 2012. It has centred its marketing campaign around social media and now has one million 'fans' on its Facebook page.

Its US growth was aided in 2011 when US retail chain Party City placed an order for Morphsuits in the run-up to Halloween.

As part of the deal the BGF has brought in Ralph Kugler as chairman to connect the business to its network of contacts. Kugler has experience of serving on the board of InterContinental Hotels and Unilever and is an advisor to the board of Mars, chairman of AIM-listed Byotrol and was chairman of Gorkana Group until April 2010.

Smeaton comments, 'This investment will step-change AFG Media and will allow us to drive our thriving business globally.

'Having Ralph Kugler as our chairman, with his proven track record of building global brands with Unilever, means we will benefit from his invaluable experience as we build brands on a similar scale within the fancy dress market.'

Duncan Macrae, investment director at BGF is also joining the board of AFG Media and says that new product lines such as Foul Fashion and Royal & Awesome present 'strong opportunities' for AFG Media.

He adds, 'There is a growing demand from businesses looking for long-term funding.

'We are looking to inspire entrepreneurs to achieve more and to make a real difference to the community of small and mid-sized companies that need guidance and support as much as funding to achieve growth.'