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UK lingerie firm benefits from pandemic boom

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A UK-based lingerie and swimwear company once favored by Samantha Cameron has seen a 200% increase in lingerie sales during the pandemic as customers seek to spice up their bedroom attire.

The For Me founder told the PA news agency he had seen customer numbers soar to help sales hit £31m in the 12 months to the end of September, up by 46%, after a jump of 61% during the same period in 2019.

Several successive lockdowns in the UK have left citizens trapped indoors, so demand for sleepwear has skyrocketed.

Founder Michael Thompson started the company about 17 years ago after discovering a passion for lingerie while working in the M&S department.

The company has high adoption numbers, with retention rates of 72%, measured by repeat purchase or return within a year of first purchase.

Underlying pre-tax profits have more than tripled since before the pandemic, including a 75% jump last year to £2.7m.

Michael

Mr Thompson said: “Like many people, for the first two months of the pandemic, we were terrified.

“The most terrifying thing for us was that 80% of our business was swimwear, it was like having a tape player and having a bunch of tapes in your warehouse and then finding out everyone went streaming .”

Three men and 47 women make up the Pour Moi design team and the entire company has 147 employees.

He added: “If you’re stuck at home, your entertainment has limited resources, it was either streaming something, playing Scrabble or shopping for lingerie.

“From the start of Covid we definitely saw our spike in sexy lingerie sales and then it moved on to more everyday lingerie because the stores were closed.

“It’s crazy, everything, every customer need changed overnight, then changed again, then will change again, we’re constantly trying to keep up and it’s so exciting.”

Pour Moi also saw a 154% increase in sales of its e-commerce site compared to 2019 figures.

In the last three months of 2021, growth increased by 297% compared to 2019.

The brand gained notoriety in 2015 after Samantha Cameron, wife of ex-Prime Minister David Cameron, wore a Pour Moi bikini while on a trip to Ibiza.

Being primarily online has benefited the company during the pandemic and helped it compete with bigger names like Marks and Spencer, which currently hold a huge market share.

Demand for Pour Moi lingerie skyrocketed during Covid (Pour Moi/PA)

Mr Thompson plans to open more physical stores in the UK, in addition to the one currently based in Chester.

Pour Moi works with wholesale partners such as Next, Very, Asos and Zalando, but direct-to-consumer sales now represent 58% of the business, making them less dependent on these partners.

Mr Thompson also agreed to give their China-based manufacturer BIA a 5% stake in the company at the start of their partnership and has not canceled any orders throughout the pandemic.

This has helped BIA avoid some of the manufacturing issues faced by many other companies during shutdowns.

Online shapewear sales have risen 420% since restrictions began to ease in the summer of 2021 and sales of strapless bras have also jumped 140% as more people leave on holiday.

Mr Thompson said: ‘We started to see it really go up from the summer and then it’s getting really, really strong now. I mean, I think I think everyone is now about the holidays.

“So there’s huge amounts of beachwear and strapless dresses, or sunny clothes being bought right now, this huge mess, swimwear and shapewear and bridal, and it’s just like this emergence of life, I think, which is great.”