Lovehoney.com buys Coco de Mer

Online retailer Lovehoney has bought erotic lingerie and accessories business Coco de Mer.

Coco de Mer, which stocks lingerie brands including Obey My Demand, Mimi Holliday, Lascivious and Stella McCartney, operates three stores. Two are based in the UK, in Covent Garden and Brompton Cross, and one is located in Los Angeles.

The company was founded by Sam Roddick, daughter of famed Body Shop founder Anita Roddick. It was almost entirely owned by her and her father, Gordon, with pop star Dave Stewart of Eurythmics in possession of less than five percent.

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Turnover has reportedly increased year on year since the business was founded in 2001. However, the business is reportedly yet to make a profit and is dependent on financial support to continue its operations.

Lovehoney, which is based in Bath and was founded by former journalist Richard Longhurst and former DJ Neal Slateford, made its first major push into the intimate apparel sector in April, 2011, with its purchase of BeCheeky.com.

It increased its sales from £10.4m to £13.4m in the year to March 2011, with profits over the period growing from £1.5m to £1.7m.

Longhurst said: “Over the past 10 years Sam has made Coco de Mer a uniquely powerful proposition and her dedication to promoting a frank and open discussion about the enjoyment of sex has been uncompromising.

“We’re incredibly excited to have the opportunity to continue to develop Sam’s groundbreaking work and make Coco de Mer the world’s leading luxury erotica brand.”

Coco de Mer will remain as a stand-alone luxury brand with a high-end product range. Lovehoney will invest in the Covent Garden store and will extend Coco de Mer’s range of own-brand products for sale direct to retail customers in the UK and leverage Lovehoney’s distribution and fulfilment network in Europe, USA, Australia and Asia.

The new owners will also overhaul the company’s online operation, whilst seeking to maintainin the look and feel of the brand, in order to provide customers with an enhanced shopping experience online.

Sam Roddick said that while emotionally it was a hard decision to sell the business, it was commercially prudent and she felt confident that the sexual awakening that Coco de Mer had helped to achieve would thrive with Lovehoney.

She said: “Neal and Richard share my passion for legitimising and promoting positive discussion about eroticism and sex. I believe that in their hands Coco de Mer will continue to offer customers a unique and highly personalised experience, a wide array of exclusive and ethical products as well access to information for those who don’t follow the conventions of mainstream society.”

Roddick will take on an informal role within the company, advising on positioning and product development. She will also continue to strive for positive change in the world through her activism pursuits.

The deal between Lovehoney and Coco de Mer was created and negotiated by Ranjit Singh, Coco de Mer’s chief executive. Ranjit, who has previously worked with global brands including Virgin and The Body Shop, was brought into Coco de Mer 12 months ago in order to restructure the company ready for a sale.

Singh said: “I am delighted that the deal has gone through as the synergy between the two brands is undeniable and I have no doubt that Coco de Mer, under the control of Lovehoney, will go from strength to strength.”

Click here to read an interview with founder Sam Roddick, as published in the August issue of Lingerie Insight.

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