Visionary Eyewear Specialist Secures Growth Funding

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A Devon-based children’s eyewear specialist is among the first businesses to benefit from the British Business Bank’s South West Investment Fund.

The smaller loan of £31,000 from SWIG Finance as part of the South West Investment Fund is part of a growth package worth £57,000. It will be used by Exeter Eyewear to support the creation of a new, innovative range of children’s glasses frames.

The £200m South West Investment Fund covers the entire South West region and provides loans from £25k to £2m and equity investment up to £5m to help a range of small and medium sized businesses to start up, scale up or stay ahead.

Exeter Eyewear, led by owner Rob Barrow, designs adjustable glasses frames for children with far-reaching benefits, particularly for those with craniofacial disorders, such as Down Syndrome.

Exeter Eyewear has also made a significant investment in digital resources. A key part of the growth strategy is to drive innovation in design, production and marketing.

With over 20 years of experience in the eyewear sector, Rob has been recognised for his work in helping young people see better by the Parliamentary Trust, as part of the NHS’s 75th anniversary.

Of the funding, Rob commented: “The assurance of additional manufacture quantities and cash reserves has opened the doors to larger- scale business in our favour. We have now been able to take our prototype models to a major UK provider, who has fully backed our product to the extent of taking their own products out of manufacture.”

Jody Tableporter, Director UK and Regional Funds at the British Business Bank, said: “We’re delighted the investment from the South West Investment Fund enables Exeter Eyewear to scale up and start production of more than 4,000 specially designed children’s frames. That’s good news for the business and great news for children who require this specialist eyewear.”

SWIG’s Rachael Taylor added “Rob’s passion for the project, a strong concept and design purpose, as well as his experience, were clear indicators this business was not only an innovative idea, but one that will improve the daily lives of many children.”

The purpose of the South West Investment Fund is to drive sustainable economic growth by supporting innovation and creating local opportunity for new and growing businesses across the South West. The South West Investment Fund will increase the supply and diversity of early-stage finance for South West smaller businesses, providing funds to firms that might otherwise not receive investment and help to break down barriers in access to finance.