Luxury retailer The White Company has reported a 51% surge in earnings, seeing profits rise to a total of £17.3m in the year leading up to the end of March 2016.

Not bad for a brand that sells just a single colour, right?

So, in a year that saw the demise of BHS and American Apparel – what’s behind the White Company’s success?

Here’s a bit of insight into what I think the business is doing right.

Knowing the customer

The White Company began when founder, Chrissie Rucker, was unable to find high quality and affordable white homewares on the high street.

With the launch of The White Company, she aimed to give fellow interior lovers a slice of ‘affordable luxury’. Since then the brand has gone on to expand its range to clothing, home accessories, gifts and furniture.

Unsurprisingly, given the motivation of its founder, The White Company prides itself on knowing exactly what its customers want.

It has never wavered from its ‘white’ theme, only veering into cream or other ivory-like hues. And while its clean, crisp and elegant designs are far removed from the likes of Cath Kidston, it shares a similar reputation for selling a lifestyle - not just a product.

While a candle might just be a candle to some, to others the idea of a calm and peaceful home is also part of the appeal. Using storytelling to engage its consumers, everything from its slippers to its range of cashmere robes come with irresistible promises such as “before-bed bliss”.

Fusing online and offline

The White Company’s chief executive Will Kernan recently commented that the company plans to "invest in enhancing our customers' experience through world-class new stores across the UK."

It is this focus on the physical shopping experience which sets the brand apart, especially among fellow homeware giants like Ikea and Home Sense. In comparison to these other brands, its retail outlets are like an oasis of calm, designed to provide the kind of atmosphere you'd generally expect in a luxury or high-end store.

Speaking about the visual nature of The White Company's stores, Chrissie herself has said that "some customers actually tell us they love it so much they often pop in just to calm down if they are having a bad day. We want it to be somewhere you love to spend time in, a bit like home really and somewhere you know you can trust the quality, advice and service."

With this is mind, it might not be a surprise to hear that The White Company has opened seven more retail outlets in the past year. By translating its recognisable brand values into a physical experience, it has become one of the most inviting spaces on the high street.

Tapping into demand

That being said, The White Company hasn't sidelined its ecommerce business.

Another big reason behind its recent success has been in its expansion - not only in terms of physical stores in the UK, but also into the US online market. Seeing 'significant growth' in this area in the second half of the year, it has clearly been a shrewd move from the brand.

Again going back to the customer experience, the brand has also been smart in how it has expanded its categories, introducing childrenswear and a line of fragrances into the mix.

The White Company hasn't strayed too far from its origins, or its brand values for that matter. Starting life as a 12-page catalogue, it now runs at an impressive 130-pages, circulating an average of 10m copies in the UK alone each year.

With a dedication to giving consumers exactly what they want, it's easy to see why The White Company has generated such success.

Related reading:

Nikki Gilliland

Published 3 January, 2017 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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