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UK Retailer Seasalt Eyes Options, Including Sale

Pent-up demand and a rise in domestic travel drove sales this past summer at Cornish fashion and lifestyle brand Seasalt, which is now weighing options—including a sale of the company—to further grow the company.

The lifestyle brand began with women’s apparel, footwear and accessories and has since expanded to include men’s. The label, inspired by Cornwall’s maritime heritage, is known globally in more than 150 countries through third-party online platforms. The nameplate also operates its own online store at seasaltcornwall.com.

The company was founded in 2004 by Leigh, Neil and David Chadwick. The brothers are still active in the business and remain the majority shareholders. According to the Seasalt’s website, the company has grown to be one of Cornwall’s largest employers. The business evolved from its first store in Penzance in 1981, which sold traditional workwear to local farmers, fisherman and artists. Over time, the company went on to design it own collections, which evolved into Seasalt.

A stake was sold three years ago to Business Growth Fund (BGF) and to Santander Corporate and Commercial for a combined 16 million pounds. The deal, with BGF investing 11.5 million pounds and Santander 4.5 million pounds, provided the fashion retailer funding to grow its business. At the time of the investment, Seasalt operated 50 stores on high streets across the U.K. and Ireland, which has since grown to more than 60 doors. The fashion retailer has long had international expansion as one of its goals. A sale of the company could provide either BGG, Santander, or both, an exit strategy.

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According to Business-sale.com, Seasalt posted a 15 percent increase in sales to 75.3 million pounds for the year ended February 2021. The report said that the company invested in a digital transformation just before the first U.K. Covid-19 lockdown. Online sales grew 95 percent in January 2021 from the year-ago period.

“Seasalt is enjoying a strong year and has ambitious plans for the future. As part of those plans, we are in the very early stages of exploring a number of options to support further online and offline growth both in the UK and internationally. We have no further information to share at this time,” a spokesperson said in the Business-sale.com report on Monday.

A sale of Cornish fashion brand Seasalt may provide an exit strategy for its two investors, as the firm eyes options to grow the business.
Looks from Seasalt, a Cornish fashion brand. Company Website

Companies that made it through the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic have been considering how best to grow for the future. Mergers and acquisitions activity has played a key role on that front.

American Eagle Outfitters last month acquired AirTerra, a Seattle-based logistics startup that says it is a shipping alternative to mid-tier retailers, allowing them to compete with the retail giants. Also last month, Foot Locker paid $1.1 billion for two acquisitions that would help it expand beyond its sports-oriented, sneaker culture. And men’s underwear brand Saxx Underwear Co. Ltd. found a new investor that provided an exit strategy for Los Angeles-based private equity firm Brentwood Associates.

And it isn’t just fashion brands and retailers that are looking to the future. Logistics firm A.P. Moller-Maersk last week acquired HUUB, through its venture capital arm Maersk Growth. HUUB, Maersk’s third deal this year, is a Portuguese cloud-based logistics startup that specializes in technological solutions for B2C warehousing for the fashion industry.