AllBright, a female-only member’s club co-founded by tech entrepreneur Debbie Wosskow OBE, has raised an additional £9m in funding.
Wosskow set up the London-based venture alongside ex Hearst Magazine chief executive Anna Jones in a bid to unearth and fund companies set up by women.
Cain International led the round and as a result of the investment, AllBright has appointed Allan Leighton as the new chairman.
Leighton, who is also investing in the business, was previously chief executive of ASDA. Following this he took on a range of different roles, which included directorships at companies such as Dyson, Cannons Group, BSkyB Group and Selfridges, as well as president of Loblaw Companies and chief executive of Pandora.
He has also been chairman of Lastminute.com and Royal Mail and is currently chairman of Entertainment One, Elements Materials, The Co-operative Group, the restaurant chain Wagamama and the Canal & River Trust.
His appointment has reportedly drawn criticism by female leaders, but Wosskow has defended the decision.
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“We are hugely excited about the global expansion of AllBright and we are delighted to welcome Allan Leighton as our chairman. AllBright is all about championing and celebrating women in the workplace. It has never been anti-men. We have men working across the business.
“For us, the appointment of chair was not about gender but about securing the right person with the credentials and experience we need. That’s why we chose Allan – we wanted someone with a different, but complementary background to ours. Since launching AllBright, we have grown rapidly into a destination brand for women from all sectors. AllBright has galvanised a strong and dynamic community of like-minded women and we are excited about growing this community globally as we continue to develop the business.”
Allan Leighton, chairman and investor of AllBright, commented: “I’m thrilled to take on the position of Chairman of AllBright. Debbie and Anna are outstanding operators who have already created a standout brand that successfully focuses on both profit and purpose. I am excited about their vision and ambition for the business and l look forward to helping them achieve it.”
Other backers in the round include Darren Throop (CEO of Entertainment One), Robert Swannell (former chairman of Marks and Spencer) and a syndicate of AllBright members.
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The cash will be used to fulfil AllBright’s expansion ambitions, with the launch of a new venue in Los Angeles set for next year. There are also plans in place to open a second space in the UK capital in early 2019.
To date, the club has attracted high-profile members, including Martha Lane-Fox, co-founder of Lastminute.com.
Jonathan Goldstein, CEO of Cain International, went on to note: “We believe in AllBright, and since Cain International’s initial investment in 2017, we have watched with pride as the company has grown, delivering on its own long-term growth strategy and providing a supportive space for working women to achieve their goals.
“Given our footprint in the US, we are perfectly placed to help Anna and Debbie realise their vision of growing the AllBright clubs, Academy and community in the US and beyond. We’re incredibly excited to continue our journey with them,” he added.
Today’s news comes after AllBright made headlines in October last year after Business Insider reported it had struggled to fundraise, lost several key members of staff and closed down its crowdfunding website.