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Seasalt rides the wave of expansion

Cornish lifestyle brand Seasalt plans to open at least five new stores over the coming months, and is set to have 60 stores in the UK and Ireland by the end of January 2019.

Seasalt recently opened stores in Cambridge and Lytham St Annes in Lancashire, and is poised to open in Belfast, Tenby in Pembrokeshire, and at Cribbs Causeway in Bristol later this year.

Chief executive Paul Hayes told Drapers that, in the medium-to-long term, having between 90 and 100 stores in the UK and Ireland “feels doable”. He believes Seasalt is enjoying success thanks to its strong brand and entrepreneurial spirit.

Hayes said Seasalt is looking at the customer journey across its entire business and will launch euro pricing on its website at the start of next year. Its website currently ships to 138 countries, but he says it has not yet fully explored its international potential. Germany, Ireland, the US and Australia are Seasalt’s key overseas territories  at present.

Creative director Laura Watson said some of the newer own store locations are leading the company to optimise its product range for city shops, compared with its more traditional seaside locations.

“What our customer might be looking for in an urban or town location can be quite different from more of an impulse purchase on holiday,” she said. “But we aren’t shifting our brand – it is about selecting the right product mix for each location.”

The Falmouth-based company’s own retail sales account for 50% of its turnover. Online comprises 36% and wholesale makes up the rest. Seasalt’s main wholesale stockists include John Lewis, Next and Fenwick. It is also working on omnichannel stock fulfilment that is set to come on stream next year.

Hayes said Seasalt has made the decision to remain resolute on its stance on discounting, choosing to hold mid-season and end-of-season Sales, but not participate in Black Friday: “We want to focus on maintaining our quality and innovating for the future, and it seems to be paying off.”

He underlined that the company’s ethos is to try new things and not to be afraid to get it wrong, but to spend lots of time listening to customers.

Will Charnley joined the company as director of strategy, customer experience and innovation in June from brewer Greene King to spearhead a new innovation hub that will look at future strategy. He previously worked at John Lewis.

Seasalt has a small men’s range and a limited gifting-driven kidswear range but remains focused on its core womenswear consumer. It has a plus-size range and will debut petite for spring 19.

“We use some older models in our campaigns and have appropriate age ranges in our stores to fully reflect our customer base,” said Watson. “We always try to be authentic, relevant and inclusive.”

For the year to 28 January 2017, the most recent results available, sales grew by 20% to £41m. In January, it revealed that its Christmas 2017 sales had soared by 52% over the previous year.

Sesalt employs just over 250 people in its Falmouth head office, and more than 400 in the whole of Cornwall. By the start of next year, it is on track to employ 1,000 across the company.

 

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