Radley targets fast global growth, names Poldark star as brand face

Premium handbag brand Radley had plenty to talk about as it celebrated its 20th anniversary in London this week with the company targeting a doubling of its sales revenue and naming Poldark actress Eleanor Tomlinson as its first ever brand ambassador. Tomlinson will front the new Radley Spirit campaign for SS19.


Eleanor Tomlinson is Radley's new brand ambassador


The company, which first set up shop from a stall in London’s Camden Market in 1998, has a target of growing its roughly £100 million in sales to £200 million within three or four years as it expands abroad and also works towards half its business coming from international markets.

CEO Justin Stead said this is “an immense year for Radley and the best years of this brand are ahead of us, in some significant way.” And its trading figures are set to bear this out in a few weeks, he told Fashion Network. 

“Against the backdrop of a really tough retail and branded environment here in the UK, I think you’ll see our results will be stunning,” he said. But he added: “Whether it’s major department stores or specialty, it’s a really tough, uncertain market. People are nervous and we need clarity and until we get that, everything’s going to remain uncertain.”

Of course, clarity is hard to come by in the pre-Brexit months with no certainty of a deal to smooth Britain’s departure from the EU.
 

Radley is 20 years old this year

But Radley seems upbeat, regardless of the domestic or global environment. Stead added that international sales are “growing substantially” and the brand “punches way above its weight” out there in the global marketplace.

“Our international growth is significantly impressive,” he said. “We launched in the US 12 months ago with only two partners [Macy’s and QVC] and the response has been phenomenal. We have a booming business in China with Tmall. We have other selective partners in Japan so we’re strong there, and we’re doing very well in Australia too.”

NEW CAMPAIGN, NEW CUSTOMERS

Stead also said the brand is working hard to address a younger market than the consumer who has grown up with the brand and it's clear that the new marketing move is part of this strategy.

New chief brand officer Julia Darlington said of the Tomlinson link-up that her campaign kicks off a series “that celebrates and represents women of spirit and substance, with the whole direction, campaign and engagement reflecting the ethos of the brand... to celebrate women and their great achievements and everything they bring to the party that is different.”

Signing Tomlinson is quite a coup for the brand with the actress being hugely popular both in the UK and beyond due to her role as Demelza Poldark in the BBC series. She’ll also be seen in Colette soon with Chanel ambassador Keira Knightley.

And importantly, she resonates well with a wide variety of age groups in the UK which, despite the global growth, remains the biggest market for the brand.


Radley London


With that in mind, Radley is continuing to open new stores and revamp or upsize others with an opening at the new Icon Outlet mall in Greenwich, new locations on Bond Street and in Bluewater in the next two weeks and a store in Bicester Village.

Those openings should benefit from the enhanced marketing investment and the product initiatives linked to it. On that front, the company will be launching an edit of Tomlinson’s favourite everyday pieces from the SS19 collection – “from weekend totes and on-the-set backpacks to red carpet clutches and dance-floor-ready cross body bags.” The edit will also include a Radley London Eleanor bag with the full collection to go on sale from mid-February.

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