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Seasalt charts course for Germany

Cornish lifestyle brand Seasalt is expanding internationally, having appointed its first agent in Germany.

The brand has more than 80 stockists outside the UK, including 50 in Ireland, about 12 in Germany and a small number in Australia, Canada and the US. However, apart from Ireland - where it has an agent - the business has never previously sought to invest in and develop its international business.

Director Leigh Chadwick told Drapers he could see a “big opportunity” in Germany, thanks in part to German TV adaptations of Cornish author Rosamunde Pilcher’s books, filmed in the county. Each year, a quarter of a million German tourists visit Cornwall.

Chadwick ruled out any other countries at this time. “Germany will give us an opportunity to understand more about international trade. We are taking a long-term view and building a business that will last. We want to understand whether our product offer is right for the market, whether we need to adapt it, before looking at other countries.”

The mid-market womenswear brand specialises in apparel, footwear and accessories inspired by the creative and maritime heritage of Cornwall. Wholesale prices range from £2.45 for socks to £60 for a quilted raincoat.

Turnover last year was £21.3m, up 34% on the previous year - and Chadwick said Seasalt was on track to achieve sales of more than £29m this year. Its wholesale business has nearly doubled over the past two years, he added, although he could not provide a breakdown of sales. Seasalt has 350 UK and Irish stockists, including John Lewis, Fenwick, and independents such as Caramel Clothing in Honiton, Devon and Alexandra’s of Keswick, Cumbria.

It is also looking to expand its retail portfolio in England. Seasalt has 24 stores - mostly in the Southwest - and a transactional website. Chadwick said it is considering a few locations where the brand is not as well represented, but could not provide details.

The brand last year began a three-year, £2m investment programme to improve its systems, launching an ecommerce site for its wholesale customers and a new product lifecycle management system.

As an extension of the latter, it will begin using K3 Retail’s Axis fashion software, which enables retailer to oversee and control every point of the supply chain, in early 2015.

“The improved systems have made it so much easier to do business,” said Chadwick.  

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