British retailer, distributor, and producer Lovehoney took over the Coco de Mer brand in 2011, but that era has now ended in the wake of a management buy-out. Lucy Litwack, who used to be in charge of the brand as Managing Director, is ready to strike out on her own, taking over the helm of Coco de Mer as the brand CEO. EAN interviewed her about the reasons for the buyout and about her plans for the future of Coco de Mer.
What was your motivation when you took over Coco de Mer in a management buy-out?
Lucy Litwack: I am so passionate about the brand. Coco de Mer has always punched above its weight but I still believe it is yet to realise its full potential. It has been considered a niche brand in the past but I think it has the potential to be so much more – a true, global luxury brand. People are pleasure seekers. They seek pleasure in a myriad of different ways and Coco de Mer is a place for people to delve deeper into their fantasies – we want to encourage a more progressive viewpoint and create a more beautiful erotic landscape to explore.
A few of our readers may not be that familiar with the Coco de Mer brand, so would you mind giving us a short summary of the company’s history, from its launch until today?
Coco de Mer was founded in 2001 by Sam Roddick, daughter of Body Shop’s Anita Roddick. The name Coco de Mer was gathered from an exotic plant whose seed bears a striking resemblance to the intimate female form. The eroticism of the precious coco de mer perfectly encapsulates Coco de Mer’s free-thinking ideology and inspires exploration of erotica, sensuality, and fashion.
Coco de Mer believes that sex is a beautiful experience, and as purveyors of sensuality, it both creates and curates irresistible objects and experiences to celebrate mutual pleasure and individual satisfaction. Lovehoney purchased the brand in 2011, I joined in 2014 and then I completed the MBO last month. Coco de Mer is a special brand. It is a creator and curator of only the finest erotica – from beautiful lingerie to toys, bondage, latex wear and intimate play products. A leader in luxury lingerie and erotica, after 16 years the brand continues to thrive.
“A leader in luxury lingerie and erotica, after 16 years the brand continues to thrive.”
For your management buy-out, you also needed investors. Was it hard to find financiers who wanted to invest in the adult industry?
Coco de Mer is such a strong luxury brand which really punches above its weight and therefore investment was not an insurmountable challenge.
Will you continue to maintain a business relationship with the former owner, Lovehoney group, say, on a wholesale level?
Yes absolutely. Lovehoney are now one of our trade partners and we remain firm friends!
What role has Lovehoney played in Coco de Mer’s success throughout the past three years?
It’s been great working with Lovehoney over the last three years. Richard and Neal are brilliant people with incredible experience who brought their vast ecommerce expertise to Coco de Mer – and allowed us free reign to develop and grow the business as we saw fit.
Will the management change at Coco de Mer have any effects on the customers? Will anything change for them?
Nothing will change for our customers. Other than the fact that we will be striving constantly to improve and develop the brand – offering new channels of distribution, even more beautiful marketing materials in the form of photography and film as well as exciting plans for new products and new collaborations.
“Nothing will change for our customers.”
What are your plans for the Coco de Mer brand?
The MBO and new funds provide us with a strong platform and supports our strategy to grow the business internationally at the luxury end of the market where Coco de Mer is already well positioned and has a very strong customer base. We have also just launched a beautiful new website which should help translate the opulence and decadence of our brand to our online customer. I am very excited by all the opportunities ahead. I look forward to collaborating with new partners in the world of art, design and fashion.
Coco de Mer has traditionally focussed on brick and mortar retailing and e-commerce. Are there any other channels of distribution you would consider?
We launched UK wholesale for AW16 and are now sold through Harrods, Selfridges, and Matchesfashion.com in addition to our own channels. We plan to launch international wholesale for SS18.
How important is the traditional adult market for Coco de Mer today, and how important will it be tomorrow? Or, put differently: Does the real potential of this brand lie in the mainstream market?
Coco de Mer has always been positioned a little outside the traditional adult market. At the luxury end of erotica, it has been all about the individualised experience. I believe that this attitude is able to transcend both the traditional and mainstream markets to allow us to develop new channels of business across a number of territories.