At a time when investors are hesitating, British ceramics brand Emma Bridgewater has secured an £8m investment to support growth. It is a big expression of confidence for the pottery company established in 1985 that has organically grown revenues beyond £20m. Like the company’s ceramics this investment is eye-catching and led me to reflect on the rationale.
A distinct and versatile identity
Emma and her husband Matthew have created an iconic brand that is simultaneously recognisable for elegant, uncomplicated artistry and also versatile enough to support a continuous stream of fresh creative ideas. A strong identity with design versatility is an exceptional asset – consider the breadth of expression within the Emma Bridgewater brand family.
Overseas appeal for British craftsmanship and personality
Emma Bridgewater is an authentic British brand with a personality and voice. Founder Emma remains accessible and pottery products continue to be handmade in a renovated 19th Century factory in Staffordshire. It strongly suggests the potential for international sales growth that investors BGF will be looking for. If tea brand Whittard of Chelsea can win over Chinese consumers, then a successful cross over for Emma Bridgewater looks achievable.
Partnerships will build presence and push boundaries
The Emma Bridgewater brand has already stretched to some obvious products including stationery, wallpaper and fabrics. But as a mark of British quality and with a menu of designs it can comfortably stretch beyond homeware. Consider how the brand brings British design and female appeal to Barbour or enables kettle manufacturer Russell Hobbs to attract fans keen to grow their Emma Bridgewater collection.
By embracing the licensing model the company has added revenue and built brand engagement without advertising expense or capital investment.
A first mug and plate purchase has become the catalyst for a growing collection for many and this is supported with a Collectors Club Membership promising exclusive pieces for website shoppers.
Having reflected on the Emma Bridgewater business and brand I can readily see the attraction for new investors BGF who have introduced former CEO of Joules, Colin Porter as non-executive chair. There are striking parallels in brand and growth opportunities between Joules and Emma Bridgewater which bodes very well.
A brand that began as a homemade birthday gift looks beautifully designed for growth.