Cabbage & Roses grow 20% year-on-year
with the help of Brightpearl.
Cabbages & Roses is a British lifestyle brand, selling women's clothing,
fabric and homeware predominantly all made in the UK.
by Christina Strutt
Chelsea, London & Japan
Cabbages & Roses is a British lifestyle brand based in Chelsea, London selling women's clothing and accessories, homewares and fabric all predominantly made in the UK. Appealing far and wide they have admirers and customers in countries from Japan across to the US. Cabbages & Roses (C&R) endeavor to make everything in England where possible and champion British made goods. A quintessential eclectic British brand, they print their own fabric just outside London to create their women's apparel, as well as homewares like bedding, cushions, wash bags, tablecloths and more. Not particularly trend led C&R produce products which they believe to be beautiful and long lasting.
Originally C&R started off as an independent retail business, founded by Christina Strutt back in 2000. Christina used to be a Vogue Living editor and an interior designer, but saw a gap in the fabric market so set about creating fabric prints herself. The first ever fabric sold was called ‘Bees’, which they still sell and continues to be a popular fabric today. C&R went from a kitchen table mail order company selling the odd fabric and a few skirts made out of their prints to a growing collection of fabrics, apparel and homeware.
Previously part of the Jigsaw group, C&R had over 21 concessions and 3 stand alone stores across the UK. In 2011 they became independent again and privately owned by Christina; they now have one flagship store based in Chelsea with offices above, and they have creative overview of two stores in Tokyo. C&R sell online via their Magento Community web store (which accounts for 70% of sales), via mail order as well as a trade channel selling to independent retailers and interior designers. Holly-Leigh Harvey, Head of Operations at C&R tells us more about their journey and how they adopted Brightpearl.
When Jigsaw invested in C&R they immediately had more resources available to grow their brand. They were part of the Jigsaw group for almost 7 years but mutually made the decision to become independent in 2012 when it became apparent they were serving a slightly different customer group than when they started the partnership. Now focusing on their own path, C&R have been developing their product range and are rapidly growing again.
Holly explains the challenges they faced when C&R became independent again; “Jigsaw used Microsoft Navision so that’s what we used; we were very much piggybacked onto their system and their website. When we left we didn’t have a system at all, but we made sure we had a website by the time we left, which we built on Magento. It all happened very quickly when the decision was made and we wanted to make sure our customers could buy from us online.
- Disconnection between POS in-store and online sales
- Time consuming manual processes
- Inaccurate inventory levels & order history
- Customer errors resulting in lost sales and discounting
- Lack of data and insight into the business
C&R were operating an old till in-store which was remained following their departure from Jigsaw, but it wasn’t connected to any kind of system. As a result they were initially forced to record all of their sales by hand. Holly adds; “Stock management was basically impossible, we’d have to manually decrement stock every day. We’d take a look at the closing balance from the night before, go through the sales and then calculate the new stock levels – and it was almost always wrong! It was virtually impossible to manage. We did a lot of things manually for the first nine months before we found Brightpearl.”
C&R have been using Brightpearl since 2012 to manage all of their orders, inventory, deliveries, sales channels and accounting. “Everything is connected in real time, from one place.” All departments of the business at C&R are using Brightpearl as the central management system. “There’s only one person who doesn’t use Brightpearl and that’s the creative director.” Holly adds; “The interface is attractive which makes it a lot easier for some of our staff to pick it up. Brightpearl is very intuitive.”
With inventory management and accounting under one roof managing the business is much easier for C&R. As an SME retailer having lots of different systems is pricey and inefficient; by having everything in one place they can make better business decisions and grow. “[Brightpearl] certainly saves us time, managing different channels is easy and reporting by channel is very useful. We report on sales by channel every day, in the morning for the day before, and we also report on weekly sales.”
Using sales and inventory reports within Brightpearl informs C&R to make decisions on sales, promotions, and marketing plans. C&R utilize email marketing for customer retention and sending out special offers, they've had great success with dotmailer a new partner of Brightpearl's. “We can see which products we want to move quickly because we’ve had them for a long time, which days are busier, we monitor the impact of a new delivery, and if we have a spike in sales we can check things out like what the weather was like that day. Looking at the product reports will also impact our product development. If we’ve had a lot of returns for a product we’ll investigate why and possibly stop producing that item, or change the design, or work with the manufacturer on improving the quality.”
The website accounts for 70% of C&R’s revenue and it’s their strategy to focus on their website. When they left Jigsaw they lost bricks & mortar concessions where customers could previously buy their products. Customers in areas like Edinburgh, York, Bath, Bristol and Cambridge could no longer buy C&R products in store anymore, so they became online shoppers. Since gaining independence again their website has become C&R’s main sales channel.
“Our key focus is our website, in five years’ time we’d like to have a much bigger international presence. Whether that is having multi-currency, multi-lingual websites I’m not sure, but we want to make our products much more accessible abroad. In an ideal world we’d like to have a couple more standalone stores. Another key strategy for us is licencing; we see ourselves as a very licensable business as we have our own fabrics, designs and brand and we want to partner with other businesses. John Lewis sells some of our fabrics in selcted stores and we've just signed an exciting new deal with them - soon you’ll be able to buy Cabbages & Roses bed linen in John Lewis stores. We’d love to see more opportunities like these coming up as we see them being a big part of our growth in the future.”
Holly sums up; “I love the fact that C&R is so unique - there’s not many other businesses out there like us. We are true to our ideals - an ethical brand selling beautiful, high quality products.”