Crabtree & Evelyn returning to Australia: CEO

Beauty brand Crabtree & Evelyn is preparing to relaunch online ahead of opening flagship stores in major Asian cities, as well as in Australia.

The brand’s owner, Hong Kong-listed company, Nan Hai Corporation, has created an entirely new brand identity for the US-founded company, drawing on the ethos of its founder Cyrus Harvey, described as “a wanderlust and nature enthusiast”. The new identity is underpinned by the message “Born Curious. Grown Wild,” a way of life the company says speaks to the brand’s beginnings and signature spirit. 

Crabtree & Evelyn closed its 12 Australian stores in January of this year shortly after the Canadian subsidiary was placed into administration resulting in the closure of its 19 stores there. 

Since then it has revamped its website which is expected to be restored this week, shipping to numerous countries. 

According to Crabtree & Evelyn CEO David Stern, the company will open several concept stores in its key cities around the world that will “host experiences to immerse its communities”. 

“The concept stores will likely be in the major cities of the UK, US, Australia and Greater China. Singapore will also open one within the next two years.”

Stern said the company recognised it needed to reinvent itself for the digital era.

“Our goal from the start was to reignite the passion for exploration that made Crabtree & Evelyn a household name, and reintroduce our brand to a curious, global community of constant explorers. We knew we had to reconstruct everything – our brand, our products, our business model – to be welcomed into that community, and to be authentic there could be no half-measures. 

“So, we made the daring decision to discontinue all of our existing products, close all of our existing stores, and reintroduce the brand behind a dynamically different product range and a social and digitally driven business model,” said Stern. 

“Our goals are simple – we intend to reinvent the relationship between a brand and its customers, and pioneer a business model for the 21st century.” 

Nicole Cowell de Gruchy, global social director at Crabtree & Evelyn, said the new “Born Curious. Grown Wild” slogan is a reflection of today’s Millennial and Gen Z consumers. 

“This group is more curious than ever, using knowledge as currency, experiences for growth, and demanding that brands feed these desires. It is no longer about traditional retail, it is about connecting to our consumers whenever, wherever – on their terms. Traditional media has also evolved, with influence in the hands of the many, rather than the few, which is why we too have evolved to become a social-first brand that exists digitally, and uses authentic storytelling to echo the modern values of our brand, and our audience.” 

The first collection that will launch under the new brand identity is Evelyn Rose, a new take on a rose-scented collection, which will be followed by the first genderless offering from the brand, Crabtree – a collection of elevated essential products the company says encompasses the brand’s “celebratory and inclusive approach to life”. 

Crabtree & Evelyn was founded in the US in 1972, expanding to the UK in 1980. It was sold to a Malaysian company in 1996, with its US subsidiary entering bankruptcy protection in 2009, resulting in the closure of about a quarter of its store network.

The business was bought by Hong Kong investment company Khuan Choo International in mid 2012 for US$155 million before being sold to the current owner, Nan Hai Corporation, four years later. Listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange, Nan Hai’s primary business focus is on property and operating cinemas and digital entertainment services, mostly in Mainland China. It has no other specific retail or cosmetics investments.

In March last year Nan Hai said it was investing in expanding and revitalising the Crabtree & Evelyn product range, its eye on Mainland China.

This story first appeared on sister site Inside Retail Asia.

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