News Scotland

Entrepreneurial Couple Buy Back the Brand They Sold to Private Equity

It’s nappy families all round as TotsBots, the award-winning cloth nappy brand based in Glasgow, is now back in private ownership. In December 2020, Magnus and Fiona Smyth sold the company to private equity firm True Global but three years later, they have bought it back!

The couple founded the business in 2000 after spotting a gap in the market for a UK made reusable nappy. They grew it from a kitchen table, work-at-home business to becoming a leading cloth nappy brand, exporting nappies all over the world and employing 55 staff in their factory in Glasgow. With over 20 years of experience, TotsBots now boasts a high-quality, eco-friendly range of nappies made from sustainable materials, including bamboo and recycled plastic waste. The company has also expanded its offering to include reusable period wear brand NORA.

In 2020, TotsBots was acquired by True Global, a company that invests in sustainable and purpose-driven businesses. As part of this acquisition, TotsBots joined forces with Frugi Organic Childrenswear, which was already a part of the True Global portfolio, to form a group of companies with shared values and goals. Magnus and Fiona Smyth stayed on as consultants to continue to provide TotsBots with their experience and expertise.

The excitement was short lived as a few months after the sale, COVID hit the UK and Brexit took hold. Three very difficult trading years followed culminating in Frugi going into administration in November 2022. Frugi was purchased by Celtic & Co in a pre-pack deal to save the brand, and the couple began plans to purchase TotsBots back from True Global – the buy-back deal was concluded on the 16th March; returning it safely into their family fold after three years away.

The couple’s key focus will be on reversing some of the previous decisions made while under group management, primarily bringing all production back into the UK, focusing on introducing new and innovative products and injecting a bit of cheeky sparkle back into the heart of TotsBots.

“We are delighted that we can bring the TotsBots brand back into our family,” said Magnus and Fiona Smyth. “Our focus now is to get back to the roots of the brand and we are especially excited to be bringing all our production back home; the decision to start offshore production wasn’t something we were particularly happy with, but it wasn’t our baby anymore and we had to let it go. We are really loving getting back into New Product Development and have some very exciting things in the 2024 pipeline. We are also looking forward to growing our NORA reusable period wear brand which launched last year. It’s definitely not where we expected to be, but we are very happy to be here as things could have turned out so differently. It’s great to have TotsBots back!”

With TotsBots’ return to Scottish ownership comes an exciting new chapter for one of the UK’s most loved reusable nappy brands. As Magnus and Fiona embark on this new journey together, they look forward to creating innovative products that make parenting easier – all while reducing waste from single use nappies! Their renewed passion for providing eco-friendly alternatives to single use products and their experience running two successful brands over 20 years, will ensure that it will be another success story for the couple – enabling them to continue on their mission to prove that small changes can make a mighty difference, for all of us!

 

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