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Clothes inspired by Cornwall's wild landscape and artistic heritage
A fateful day
In 1981, Don Chadwick walked into a small store in Penzance, Cornwall to buy some waterproof coats and ended up buying the whole shop. Originally called General Clothing Stores, it supplied traditional workwear to local fishermen, farmers and artists, as well as clothing essentials to holidaymakers.
In 2001, after Don passed away, his sons Neil, Leigh and David had to decide what to do with the business. When Neil met his wife Sophie, a textile designer, in 2005, they were inspired to create a quality clothing brand that would reflect the local community, as well as everything the family loved about Cornwall.
They developed what is now one of Cornwall’s biggest employers, Seasalt. The company has expanded over nearly 20 years from its original store in Penzance to become a nationwide brand stretching from Belfast to Swansea, Northumberland to Guernsey.
The original shop sold fishermen’s smocks, Guernsey pullovers and stripey tops. The modern brand preserves this practical tradition with clothes that are not only beautiful but also useful.
BGF's Talent Network introduced Seasalt to other portfolio companies to understand how to enhance the digital platform.BGF Talent Network
Small, friendly feel
As it has grown, the firm has stayed true to its values, maintaining a friendly, small business approach. Paul Hayes, chief executive since 2016, says heritage still runs through the core of Seasalt.
“We’re more of a medium-sized business now considering we have over 1,000 employees, but we still operate in a way that maintains strong links with our customers and communities. We are obsessed with offering our customers quality products and the best experience at an affordable price.”
BGF's investment has allowed Seasalt to...
Open more shops across the country.
Improve the customer experience in-store and online.
A natural fit
Instrumental in Seasalt’s growth beyond the Cornish coast has been BGF, which invested £11.5 million in 2018. Santander Corporate & Commercial provided an additional £4.5 million in funding.
“We’ve always liked the way BGF approaches business and we share a number of values, so it seemed a natural fit,” says Paul. “The team we work with really understands it’s not just about short-term gain, but about doing what is right for the business and its future.”
Seasalt has drawn on the expertise of BGF’s Talent Network, one of the largest groups of board-level non-executives in the UK and Ireland, to help improve its online channels and build an international presence.
“What we love about working with BGF is that it backs the business and provides access to a wealth of industry knowledge, but equally the team there let our management get on with what they know best and don’t interfere in how we run our business on a day to day basis.”
What we love about working with BGF is that it backs the business and provides access to a wealth of industry knowledge, but equally the team there let our management get on with what they know best and don’t interfere in how we run our business on a day to day basis.
Paul Hayes, chief executive of Seasalt
Invested by BGF to develop the business.
With BGF’s help, Seasalt aims to open more stores and employ more people across the country, not only in the south west of England. The company is continuing to develop its online store, helping to grow internationally by inspiring customers in the UK and beyond with the spirit of creative Cornwall.
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