The owner of an innovative dry cleaning business in Peterborough has raised £550,000 to expand the enterprise.
She has secured the investment from the Midland Engine Investment Fund’s proof of concept and early stage fund.
The finance will be used to buy two new automated pods that allow customers to drop off and collect their dry cleaning at any time by simply scanning their membership card.
The company’s first two pods - at Peterborough Station and Serpentine Green shopping centre - have been popular with customers.
The proposed two new pods will be installed at two other high footfall locations in the area before rolling out the concept across the UK.
As part of the deal, Stephen Harrison, who has previously worked in roles at PepsiCo, Asda and Dolland and Aitchison, has been appointed as chairman of Peters’ Cleaners.
His appointment follows that of Andy Mee, who was previously financial director of Compass, joined the firm’s advisory board.
Vicky, who held business development roles in Hong Kong, Singapore and London before buying Peters’ Cleaners in 2016, said: “I noticed I was unable to access dry cleaning facilities out of hours and saw a gap in the market.
"The pods are accessible 24/7, providing the perfect solution. They are a modern approach to a traditional service and are a great addition to our existing stores.
“The dry-cleaning landscape has massively changed over the years, particularly during the pandemic when a lot of companies went out of business.
"It was time for the industry to introduce new ways to provide customers with cleaning services that fit around their lifestyle. We’re delighted to be the driving force behind this change.”
Sandy Reid, of fund managers Mercia, said: “Dry cleaning is a sector where there has been little or no innovation in years, yet businesses have been struggling with margin erosion as costs have increased.
"Vicky is a driven and ambitious entrepreneur who we are pleased to back.
"The pods have been well received by customers and attracted interest from rail operators and shopping centres.
"The funding will enable her to franchise her model to expand it throughout the UK.”
Mark Wilcockson, Senior Investment Manager at the British Business Bank, said: “The Midlands Engine Investment Fund was set up to identify gaps in small business funding and to provide support to companies with innovative new ideas that create jobs and help to level up the region.
"It’s good to see that using the MEIF’s funding, Peters’ Cleaners will be able to expand the business in the Midlands and across the UK.”