COVID Boosts 40% Month-Over-Month Growth for Online Jewelry Brand Fenton

  • Online jewelry startup Fenton was launched in February 2019 to offer a ‘build your own’ digital engagement ring service using ethically sourced gemstones.
  • The UK company says it has grown by more than 40% month-on-month since the lockdown in March and made more revenue in the third quarter of 2020 than for all of 2019.
  • In February 2020, Fenton raised £ 1.9million ($ 2.4million) from leading investors including Alex Chesterman, founding real estate website Zoopla and used car marketplace Cazoo.
  • Visit the Business Insider homepage for more stories.

Online jewelry startup Fenton was launched in February 2019 to shake up the traditional engagement ring market.

Traditionally, engagement ring buyers have stuck with traditional jewelers, but Fenton offers a digital-centric approach that he says cuts traditional retailers by about three times.

With buyers unwilling or unable to walk into physical stores and try on rings, they are looking for digital options.

Fenton also differentiates itself from the traditional diamond engagement ring market by focusing on ethically sourced gemstones.

After a strong Christmas first season, achieving £ 100,000 ($ 128,000) in sales in November 2019, Fenton says it has grown more than 40% month-over-month since the start of the pandemic.

It generated more income in the three months leading up to October than it did throughout 2019, according to founder Laura Lambert.

“So this year we think we’re going to be 3x, plus a little bit maybe, compared to where we were last year,” Lambert said. “In a year where retailers have suffered so much, it’s really exciting to be a story of growth rather than a story of survival.”

But, despite Fenton’s success, she says that when she first started an online engagement ring business, she encountered a lot of investor skepticism.

“We only started online, which was a big step,” Lambert says. “A number of investors have told me that no one will ever buy and engage with me online and luckily that turned out to be incorrect.”

She adds, “We mostly talk to customers on WhatsApp. Facebook Messenger is our secondary channel, email and phone are really support channels because I think people want to interact with brands the way they do with them. their friends.”

The advantage of this is that Fenton doesn’t just focus on the London market, Lambert says: “We have a huge range of professions and ages, and a lot of our clients, over 50%, are outside London. , which I like because I think so many luxury brands are really customer focused in London. “

COVID-19 Validated Fenton’s Business Model But Threatened Its Supply Chain

Fenton has benefited from going online in the wake of COVID-19, with many traditional family businesses collapsing due to a lack of digital innovation, Lambert said.

“The majority of the market is owned by independent retailers, often family businesses… There has been very little digital evolution in the space from most of these independent players,” she says. “I think the pandemic had the effect of accelerating changes that were already dawning. I feel like we turned five years in advance.”

The broader luxury goods market has been hit hard by the pandemic. The sector is expected to see sales plummet by 35% in 2020, according to a survey by consultancy firm Bain in May.

But, Fenton saw resilient demand, Lambert says.

“Engagement ratings are one of the few things people will prioritize over a lot of other things in their lives… I would say the luxury goods market has gone down, but we’ve probably taken a bigger part the market, which is what has fueled our growth, ”she said.

This matches up to McKinsey statistics, cited by the FT, suggesting that 25% of U.S. and European consumers purchasing luxury goods online during the lockdown are doing so for the first time.

While COVID-19 hasn’t changed Fenton’s business model, it has threatened its supply chain.

“We mainly manufacture in India and [so] we have opened several other manufacturing centers around the world to try to cover any future blockages, ”explains Lambert. “We opened them in about a week. Our production was therefore virtually uninterrupted. “

Fenton

Average spend at Fenton is almost £ 2,000 ($ 2,600)

Fenton


In February, Fenton raised a round of funding of £ 1.9million ($ 2.4million). Investors included serial entrepreneur Alex Chesterman, founding real estate website Zoopla and used car market Cazoo; and Camilla Dolan, founding partner of Eka Ventures and investor in startups such as Gousto.

Lambert says the funding will be focused more on growing the business than expanding the product line.

“We are already doing sales in Europe, which is great. We have a very cheap and very good ROI campaign on Facebook and Instagram, and have had sales in Germany in particular,” says Lambert. “So I think next year we’ll be going a lot more in that direction.”

She adds, “But, always keeping at the heart of our idea of ​​being the luxury engagement ring for every client. We’re not a household name yet, we need to double the bet.

Another round of funding isn’t on the horizon right now, but Lambert says it’s not something she will rule out.

“We continue to have these balanced months, which is really exciting, but we’re still driving growth,” she says. “We believe we will be profitable at the start of the second half of next year.”