Seasalt is a rapidly growing lifestyle clothing brand that plays on its Cornish heritage and puts social and environmental responsibility at the heart of its vision.
The current Seasalt business was founded in the early 2000s by brothers David, Neil and Leigh Chadwick. It grew out of a shop in Penzance selling outdoor clothing and workwear that their father Don Chadwick had bought on a whim while on holiday in Cornwall 20 years earlier. The business is still family owned for now at least, with Neil’s wife Sophie designing most of the prints. Originally focused on womenswear, developing the menswear range is now being prioritised.
While Seasalt has always operated along multichannel lines, the store opening programme had accelerated sharply from 2015, taking the Seasalt network to around 70 or so stores right across the UK. Expansion has been scaled back from 2020, however, in response to the pandemic, while four stores deemed to be “insufficiently profitable” were shuttered in FY2021.
Under its first non-family CEO Paul Hayes, Seasalt has invested heavily in the online business. This resulted in the timely launch of new websites for Ireland and the Rest of World in 2020 and the relaunch of its core UK site in July 2021.
Seasalt also operates a growing wholesale division which has facilitated overseas development and is also being prioritised for investment. Partnerships with third-party retailers including M&S, Next and Zalando will also be key in driving growth.
Going forward, Seasalt is keen to increase its international presence in high-growth markets, but pulled out of a potential sale process in mid-2022 amid uncertain market conditions.
The retailer staged a strong post-pandemic recovery in the year to end-January 2022 (FY2021). Group sales rose 38.2% to £96.4m, reflecting a 200% surge in store sales and 8.2% growth in online revenues against strong comparatives. Profitability also strengthened on the back of the robust trading performance and the ongoing renegotiation of leases on more favourable terms, with pre-tax profits soaring 167% to £6.5m and pre-tax profit margin virtually doubling to 6.7%
Innovation rating: 2.5