February 11, 2019 @ 11:12 by Richard Dawson
A global high-end childrenswear retailer has invested £500,000 in a Sunderland city centre store.
Designer Childrenswear – founded 30 years ago by husband and wife duo Brenda and Kevin Coade – has grown rapidly in recent years and is now the UK’s third largest independent retailer of name brand children’s clothing.
The company started from humble beginnings on Newcastle quayside – where Brenda and Kevin would spend their weekends selling children’s dresses from a small market stall – before going on to open their first bricks and mortar store on Olive Street, Sunderland, in 1984.
However, it wasn’t until they spotted a gap in the market for designer children’s clothing and accessories that the couple branched out to establish the firm’s credentials in the fashion world.
Originally known as “Avenue”, the businesses rebranded to Designer Childrenswear in 2013. Not only did this reflect the evolution of the business into a dedicated retailer of luxury childrenswear, it also helped the company establish an enviable online presence.
Designer Childrenswear was an early adopter of social media and Brenda and Kevin were quick to capitalise on the growing popularity of ecommerce, making them one of the most searched for children’s clothing retailers in the country.
Brenda said: “We noticed companies in other industries really accelerating ahead of competitors by embracing ecommerce and social media at an early stage and decided to rebrand and invest heavily in our online presence in order to move with the times.
“Since then, we’ve seen sales soar year-on-year and have established a global customer base. Most of our annual sales now come from overseas with customers from as far as China and the UAE to the USA and Canada. The impact it has had on our business has been phenomenal.”
The continued success of the company’s online business resulted in it reaching full capacity at its two Sunderland bases last year and the pair knew they would have to continue investing in order to sustain this growth.
This led to the investment of £500,000 in a new, larger store on Derwent Street early in 2018. The store, which opened last month, provides larger retail space, increased warehousing capacity and an improved photography studio.
Brenda adds: “A lot of people are skeptical about the retail sector, however for us, there has never been a better time to invest. We’re growing year-on-year and our high street store still contributes massively to this growth.
“Our staff always go out of their way to be as friendly as possible and we have fantastic relationships with many of our loyal customers who have bought from us over the years. We’re lucky to have such great customers and the feedback we’ve had so far from the new store has been incredible.”
The company has ambitious plans for the future and is anticipating another solid year of growth. Brenda added: “It’s been yet another rollercoaster year for us and we couldn’t be happier with the progress we’ve made.
“We’re delighted to have opened our new store and continuing to not only support the high street but also the local economy. We’re creating more jobs and are helping bring more people into the city which has given us so much since we opened our first store here over 30years ago.
“And it’s not just jobs in store, either. We’ve also increased the headcount of our ecommerce team over the past couple of years, creating a number of highly-skilled jobs and as our online sales continue to grow, so will the team.
“Looking forward, we can’t wait to see what the future holds as we continue growing and investing in the business.”
Councillor Michael Mordey, deputy leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “Designer Childrenswer is a brilliant example of how businesses, especially retailers, can benefit from adopting new technologies.
“It’s no secret that UK’s high streets have suffered over recent years however Brenda and Kevin have really bucked this trend, growing year-on-year and expanding their presence across the globe.
“We’re delighted that they have continued to invest in the city, creating more jobs for local people and bringing people from across the country to Sunderland in the process.”