Crabtree & Evelyn CEO: ‘The brand and company failed to evolve with the times’


Crabtree & Evelyn caught everyone by surprise with its relaunch in Singapore, coupled with an eCommerce push. This came just days after it shut its retail stores in January and ceased online operations just last week.

In a press statement, Crabtree & Evelyn CEO David Stern said the company knew it had to “reconstruct everything” and there can be “no half-measures”. The series of consecutive changes, however, may seem puzzling to some. Delving further into the matter, Stern told Marketing that the brand and the company failed to evolve with the times.

He added, “Our customer evolved, our markets evolved, our world evolved. While our core proposition of exploration and personal growth became even more relevant to our customer, the brand and the company failed to evolve with the times.”

The failure, however, was not from the lack of effort. According to Stern, the brand tried for years to evolve its traditional retail model, but to no avail. It required a “far more dynamic change” in culture, capabilities, and market approach due to changing consumer preferences.

He explained: “Customers today are more social and connected. They are more digital and omni-channel. They expect more of their relationships with a brand. We are determined to pioneer a new business model for our digital age, a business built on lasting relationships not just retail transactions.

Moving forward, Crabtree & Evelyn will focus on growing its business in Singapore through local social and digital activities.

In its new business model, it aims to be more innovative in its products and in connecting with its communities through virtual and physical approaches. However, the brand will handle all of its executions in house.

While it is uncertain whether the company will bring back brick-and-mortar stores, Stern told Marketing that it has been testing “new retail concepts of all types”, and will continue to do so to determine what adds the most value to its consumer relationships. He added that Singapore was one of the countries in its first wave of brand relaunch, alongside UK, US, Australia, and Greater China, to appeal to a new generation of consumers. Crabtree & Evelyn, which is currently in 12 markets, plans to reintroduce the brands to the rest of the markets in future.

Stern said that Singapore has long been one of the brand’s “best markets”, ranking alongside markets such as Australia and Canada in its contribution to the business despite its size.  “Our customer in Singapore has long appreciated the quality and sophistication of our products, which makes it a natural fit for our new direction,” he added.

Crabtree & Evelyn’s new brand direction seeks to recapturing its ethos, “Born Curious. Grown Wild”, which Stern claimed to make the brand great in the first place. The company is recommitting to staying curious in order to grow, and helping its audiences to do the same. He said:

Our customer wants authenticity in their lives and their brands, and will judge a brand on its values and its commitment to make their lives better. That is our focus.