Simplicity and creativity is at the heart of everything Seasalt does, and they strive to make everything not only beautiful but also useful. Here, RLI sits down with company CEO Paul Hayes to discuss how the brand got to this point and what the next steps are.
The original business began in 1981, when the Chadwick family went into a small store in Adelaide Street, Penzance, called General
Clothing Stores. They went in to buy a waterproof jacket and instead bought the shop itself.
Back then, the shop sold traditional workwear, such as fisherman’s smocks, Guernsey pullovers and striped tops to the sailors, farmers and fishermen of the area. Those products still influence how the products look today. Since then, Seasalt’s growth has been impressive. They have just opened their 61st location, a shop in Lincoln last month, have 400 stockists across the UK and Europe and an online customer base that stretches across the globe. “We have had a successful 2018, and experienced a record Christmas, with in-store sales rising by 31 per cent over the period, online sales rising by 39 per cent, and international growth has registered a growth of 35 per cent,” explains company CEO Paul Hayes. “As our business grows and we open more shops, awareness of the brand also increases. We feel that the perception of the Seasalt brand is very positive which gives us a solid foundation to build on. We are lucky to have so many loyal customers, and we are committed to staying true to our core brand values.”
Seasalt has been busy in the last few months, opening two shops in December in Cribbs Causeway and in the coastal town of Tenby, and also one in Windsor in February. Seasalt’s choice of shop location is not always in the most obvious places but it’s a calculated risk. Whilst they have shops in city shopping centres, some of their most successful locations are also in market and coastal towns. They will always seek out sites that fit with their customers’ lifestyles and needs.
In the next year Seasalt will continue to invest in bricks-and- mortar, bucking the general trend and supporting both local economies and the general high street. They plan to open in 10-12 additional locations, as they still see plenty of appetite for their approach to upholding the values of good shop keeping.
“We are committed to constantly improving our customer experience and service innovation, and this will continue to be a focus in 2019. We are also working towards achieving B Corp accreditation, to demonstrate our sustainability achievements so far, but crucially to set us on a further path of improvement,” says Hayes. Innovation and investment are a constant focus for the brand so that they remain at the cutting edge of product, technology, customer experience and service, marketing and people. Everything is still designed at the head office in Falmouth to remain true to the brand values and Cornish roots which are an integral part of the brand identity.
From a product perspective, they believe in using the best possible materials, latest innovations and unrivalled attention to detail to bring quality products to market. Maintaining a full price sell-through commitment means the brand can continue to innovate, and this is a strategy that sets them apart from many retailers who may be more promotionally led. The brand’s use of social media, in particular Facebook and Instagram, has allowed them to build a community founded on genuine trust and love for the brand. This in turn has translated into positive engagement and ultimately sales. The social media team is dedicated to nurturing an open, meaningful and close relationship with its customers. They use social touchpoints as a place to test and learn so that its customers genuinely feel a part of the journey the brand is on.
“We really do put the customer at the heart of everything we do and despite the fact we’ve grown into a much bigger business, it’s our continued commitment to good shop keeping that keeps our customer loyal,” says Hayes. The brand has always been committed to conducting business honestly and authentically. They are one of the UK’s largest retailers of organic cotton and are proud to have been the first fashion company to have been Soil Association GOTS certified back in 2005. “We look forward to opening more shops and will promote and support these within their individual communities,” concludes Hayes.