We learnt recently that one of the all-time Iconic Australian brands, Seafolly, had moved into administration off the back of the on-going global Pandemic. Since being founded in 1975 by Peter Halas at Bondi Beach, it has become a global beacon for fashionable swimwear and lifestyle clothing. As the fashion industry continues to be impacted by consumer behavior and the move toward online platforms, it’s a really tricky business to navigate forward and develop a plan that will bring a sustainable future. As time goes by things change, and with change comes opportunity which has been the case with Seafolly. It was recently announced that industry specialist Brendan Santamaria would assume the role of CEO at Seafolly to guide the business on a new path towards a successful future. We tracked Brendan down to speak with him in relation his plan to reposition the business for sustained growth and success.
Interesting times Brendan. What attracted you to Seafolly?
Seafolly is a brand rich in heritage, founded in 1975 and is known and loved by so many Australians. The brand was born out of passion and spirit and I believe there is real opportunity for Seafolly to become Australia’s most loved swimwear brand once again.
Under your newly acquired structure, can you let us know what your revamped stores network will look like? I believe you have announced the closure of your Sunburn outlets?
Our retail portfolio is now 100% Seafolly concept stores that will embody the very essence of our brand and offer our customers a beautiful shopping experience in store.
The fashion category has been most impacted by the shift in consumer shopping behaviour. How will you address this to sure up your brands performance?
Our aim is to grow our ecom presence and create a full beach lifestyle experiential service in our bricks and mortar stores.
There have been many famous and well-known names, including Miranda Kerr, Kristy Hinze and Jessica Hart. Will you bee seeking a new ambassador for your brand?
Georgia Fowler and Charlee Fraiser will front our Summer campaign launching in November of this year.
We understand you recently acquired the Jets Swimwear brand from the PAS group. What was the catalyst for this acquisition?
Jets has strong equity in a different segment to Seafolly, the resort space. It is also another Australian heritage brand, known and loved and has a lot of potential. I am looking forward to seeing it grow.
Brendan, can you see personalized swimwear ranges forming part of your strategy into the future?
At this stage, nothing is in the pipeline but that’s not to say it won’t be one day.
Does your new strategy include the Chinese market?
Not at this stage.
Where do you see the retail model for fashion brands given the disruption that has already been experienced?
Online will continue to be a key driver and shoppers will be expecting more experiences and one off offerings in-store.
Do you believe that having a relationship directly with the consumer will form part of your new plan?
Absolutely, we are customer centric, first and foremost.
We notice that your new look has stripped out significant costs from the business. Where do you see the balance between too much and too little?
We need to get the balance right to become a profitable business and some difficult decisions were made but we hope that will secure the longevity of this beautiful Australian brand.
There is no doubt that unless consumer brands embrace change and address the new world already upon us, the changing retail architecture will continue to impact the category. We wish Seafolly as a great Australian label a speedy return to dominance.