Maternity wear brand Seraphine was started in 2002 with a vision to revolutionise the sector and become the go-to brand for trendy mums-to-be. In this interview, RLI sits down with company CEO David Williams to discuss how the name has grown over the years and what the coming months have in store.
The Founder of Seraphine, Cécile Reinaud began the company because, as a mum of two, she still wanted comfortable and well-designed on-trend clothes. Over the course of the last 17 years, the brand has made its mark on the maternity wear industry, and now counts a long list of celebrity and royal fans, as well as winning the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the UK, in recognition of its outstanding achievements in international trade. Whilst primarily an e-commerce business that operates web ‘stores’ in seven countries, there are physical stores in strategically positioned locations, operating eight retail stores across London, Leeds, Paris and New York, along with franchise partnerships in Dubai, Hong Kong and New Delhi.
‘We’ve had an amazing 12 months – as a multichannel retailer we’ve seen exceptionally strong growth, especially across our e-commerce channels which have grown 40 per cent in the first half of this year,” explains David Williams, CEO of Seraphine. “This growth has been driven by accelerating our existing core markets and opening up in new ones, with dedicated e-commerce websites for both Germany and Australia launched in the period.‘
As Williams mentions, the last year has seen the launch of dedicated websites in two new markets, Germany, which has been an incredible success, and more recently Australia, which has also made a promising start. Meanwhile in terms of physical stores, a new franchise partnership was entered in India, with a new store opening in New Delhi back in April. Looking ahead, the brand is set to continue its current trajectory, adding stores and dedicated websites in markets where opportunity for growth has been identified. While it is a long list, Williams envisages launching one or two new online stores in Western Europe and adds that there is potential for a new physical store on the West Coast of the US, while the Far East is also on its radar.
Taking a closer look at the business we ask Williams how they maintain their position in the market, and how do they go about introducing new products? ‘Everything we produce is designed in-house in our London studio. We have an exceptionally strong design team who are always pushing the boundaries when it comes to innovation. Many members of the team are mothers themselves, so they draw a lot on their own experience when creating and implementing new products.‘
Social media has always been a major strength of Seraphine’s, and as their customers are incredibly socially engaged, they have in the last 12 months honed their expertise in creating highly relevant content and targeting the right audiences. Williams feels the aspect of social media is incredibly important – explaining that there is a strong trend across retail and e-commerce generally of customer journeys shifting from beginning with an internet search to beginning with checking social media – and that the company is well positioned to take advantage of that. “In terms of customer relationships, the maternity sector is an interesting niche to be operating in. Of course a woman is only pregnant and nursing for a finite amount of time, so our customer lifecycle is quite different to that of your average fashion brand, but while she is pregnant we are hyper-relevant to her in a unique way,” says Williams.
The business offers an extensive collection which covers all the fashion bases, allowing women the chance to stay true to their styles throughout their pregnancies and celebrate it. Customers return if they become pregnant again and are always happy to recommend them to friends and family. “Here at Seraphine, we offer affordable luxury fashion. We’re a one stop shop for everything a woman might need for her pregnancy, from everyday essentials through to high-end evening wear and everything in-between,” Williams explains.
The company’s ethos is that every woman deserves to feel comfortable and confident in her clothes throughout her pregnancy, and they provide an affordable option that fits and flatters along with innovative solutions designed to support a woman through every stage of her journey into motherhood. So what does Williams believe lies ahead and what is the greatest challenge? “As a lean thinking but fast-growing business, the challenge lies in deciding which opportunity to pursue first. It can be tempting to push outwards in all directions at once, but strategic focus on one or two markets at a time is always the most sensible and manageable way to grow,” he concludes.