August 17, 2022

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We Bring Good Things to Life

Lingerie firm with its only physical store in Chester enjoys pandemic boom

A LINGERIE and swimwear company which has its only physical store in the heart of Chester has seen a 200 per cent spike in lingerie sales during the pandemic, as customers looked to spice up their bedroom attire.

The founder of Pour Moi told the PA news agency he saw customer numbers soar to help sales reach £31 million in the 12 months to the end of September, up 46 per cent, following a 61 per cent jump in the same period in 2019.

Several successive UK lockdowns meant citizens were trapped inside, so demand for nightwear soared.

Founder Michael Thompson started the business around 17 years ago after he discovered a passion for lingerie whilst working in the department at M&S.

The clothing brand does most of its business online, and has just one physical store – in Bridge Street.

The company has high repeat uptake figures, boasting 72 per cent retention rates, measured by a repeat or return purchase in the year following first purchase.

Underlying pre-tax profits have more than trebled since before the pandemic, including a 75 per cent jump in the past year to £2.7 million.

Mr Thompson said: “Like a lot of people, for the first couple of months of the pandemic we were terrified.

“The biggest terrifying thing for us was that 80 per cent of our business was swimwear, it was like having cassette player and having loads of cassettes in your warehouse, then finding out everyone has gone to streaming.”

Three men and 47 women make up the design team at Pour Moi and the entire business has 147 staff.

He added: “If you’re stuck at home, your entertainment has limited resources, it was either streaming something, playing Scrabble or buying lingerie.

“Straight into Covid we definitely saw our sexy lingerie sales spike, and then it went into more everyday lingerie because the stores were closed.

“It is mad, everything, every customer need changed overnight and then has changed back again, and then will change again, we are constantly trying to keep up with it and it’s so exciting.”

Pour Moi also experienced a 154 per cent increase in e-commerce website sales compared with 2019 figures.

During the final three months of 2021, growth increased by 297 per cent from 2019.

The brand gained notoriety in 2015 after Samantha Cameron, ex-Prime Minister David Cameron’s wife, wore a Pour Moi bikini on a trip to Ibiza.

Being predominantly online benefited the company during the pandemic and helped them compete with bigger names like Marks and Spencer, who hold a huge chunk of the market share currently.

Mr Thompson does have plans to open more physical stores around the UK.

Pour Moi does work with wholesale partners including Next, Very, Asos and Zalando, but direct-to-consumer sales now account for 58 per cent of the business, making them less reliant on these partners.

Mr Thompson also agreed to give their manufacturer BIA, based in China, a five per cent stake in the business at the beginning of their partnership and did not cancel any orders throughout the pandemic.

This helped BIA avoid some of the manufacturing issues that many others companies had during lockdowns.

Shapewear sales online increased by 420 per cent since restrictions started to ease in summer 2021 and strapless bra sales also jumped up by 140 per cent as more people go on holiday.

Mr Thompson said: “We started seeing it going up really from the summer onwards and then it’s just getting really strong now. I mean, I think I think everyone now is all about the holidays.

“So, there is huge amounts of beach wear and strapless dresses, or sunny clothes being bought at the moment this huge mess, swimwear and shapewear and bridal, and it’s just like this emergence of life I think there which is great.”