Seasalt's digital focus boosts sales as customers buy cosy, at-home clothing
Cornish lifestyle brand Seasalt saw its sales jumping during the festive season even though it endured a 44% fall in sales through physical shops. Fortunately, its webstore easily made up for the shortfall with a 95% increase.
Total sales rose a buoyant 17% while international sales were ahead by 20% during the five-week period to January 2.
But despite the buoyant trading, there’s no denying that lockdowns during 2020 and in the first month of 2021 have taken their toll. Store sales for the full year to the end of January should be around 57% lower year-on-year and while online sales should be up around 72%, total sales will be lower than its previous financial year. But given that they’re only expected to be around 9% lower, that's a good result in the toughest period for fashion retail in decades.
Seasalt said customers responded to “a mixture of brand content, Cornwall-inspired activities and positive messaging”. And it added that customers have adapted to working from home with sales of women’s socks, slippers and trousers “more than doubling”.
It also benefited from having been focusing on digital pre-pandemic and from being in a good position to accelerate this as the crisis gripped the fashion sector. That meant making the most of digital when stores were shut and of omnichannel opportunities when they were allowed to open.
Virtual and in-store (when permitted) appointments launched, “providing customers with a personalised experienced in a safe and comfortable environment”. And its partnerships with Zalando and eBay “demonstrate our multichannel approach and have assisted in new customer acquisition”.
CEO Paul Hayes, Seasalt CEO, said. “We had started our digital transformation well before the first lockdown, but the events of the past year have accelerated all our plans. We now make approximately two-thirds of our sales online and while our stores remain a vital and constantly-evolving part of the business, we expect a much higher percentage of sales to be digital from now on.”
The company also said its turnover for the year to the end of February 2020 rose 15% to £75.4 million, meaning more than a decade of growth at or above 15%.
Its pre-tax profit was £0.7 million, which was well below the prior year’s £2.5 million figure, although that had been boosted by fair value accounting for unrealised gains and losses on foreign exchange contracts. The figure was broadly level without that one-off distortion.
Underlying EBITDA in the latest period was £4.4 million with a gross profit margin of 55%, while operating profit was £1 million.
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