Exclusive Interview with James Waddington, Executive Director of Romantica of Devon
Bridal Times had the great opportunity to speak with James Waddington to talk about the success of his family business and the exciting news of the takeover of DOM Bridals- the European and EU distributor for Mon Cheri.
James, Romantica of Devon has been in business for almost 37 years. What would you say are the key factors that have made the family-owned business so successful over the years?
I think being a family business is a huge strength in itself. We don’t have venture capitalists to answer to and as such can always make the long-term decisions to build and support our business – we never need to take short term positions to make money fast. By being able to rely on each other we can always get the job done – I spent my Christmas and Summer holidays hanging dresses to make sure they were in the stores in plenty of time and my son is in training to do the same! We believe honesty, integrity and old-fashioned family values are key to our success and this will always be the backbone of the company.
Congratulations on the new expansion of your company! Can you tell us how the takeover of Mon Cheri came about?
Thank you very much. When we found out David Morton, Owner of DOM Bridals and the UK and EU distributor of Mon Cheri LLC, was looking to retire, we knew the Mon Cheri labels would be a great fit for us. Firstly, David and his family have always run his business as a family one, so we know many of their values are the same as ours. Additionally, the product range does not compete with the Romantica offering and so compliments the selection we have as a group. Once we knew the business was so compatible with ours, we were excited to get things moving as soon as possible.
What does the takeover mean to you and your team?
It means we are going to be busy! The team has grown over the last few months and we now have an additional 12 team members from sales to logistics and customer service to administration and so this has been great. After such a difficult year for everyone in Bridal and outside of the industry also, it feels very positive at the moment and its fantastic to see the phones ringing and dresses constantly coming in and out of the facility – it is as if the company is truly alive again after a year in hibernation and that is really special.
Are there plans for any major changes to the Mon Cheri brands, or will they continue to remain the same?
As the US based company which we are now the European distributors will be remaining the same, the product lines will also be remaining the same. Having said that although we have only been working with the Mon Cheri Group for a few months it is clear they are a fantastically dynamic organization – they have to be to have achieved so much. As a result, I am sure there are many exciting changes to come and we feel blessed to be a part of that journey.
How will takeover benefit bridal retailers will see in the coming months?
One of the first benefits we can bring to the European market is that we had already worked out a way of making Brexit as smooth as possible for retailers. We are now working alongside an Irish Distributor to move our goods across Europe, saving retailers the duty and the VAT alongside all of the extra paperwork that will go with it. As such Mon Cheri customers will be able to benefit from all this and any orders placed over the coming months will run through this facility. There are plenty more changes planned to advertising, product packaging and more – all of which we cannot wait to announce in the coming months!
Can you tell us Romantica of Devon’s relationship with the bridal market in Germany?
Romantica have been selling in the German market for over 20 years and have great relationships with so many stores. We are the only British company who is a partner in the Interbride trade fair which shows our commitment to the market and our retailers. I have missed visiting Germany this year because of travel restrictions and that really has been a shame – not only have I missed spending time with our stores, I have missed watching Bayer Leverkusen and drinking German Pilsner – these things are not the same in England!
Year 2020/2021 has been especially tough for everyone. What is your outlook on the bridal industry for 2022?
I think Bridal is fortunate in one way in particular. In so many industries which lost turnover because of the pandemic, most of those will not be able to ‘catch up’ their lost turnover. A season with no football matches will not mean that people will go to twice as many football games next year. Or the same would be true of music events or meals out. The list goes on. In bridal, it is different. Most people who had planned to get married before the pandemic, will still get married (eventually) As a result of that I think there are some good years ahead for the industry and I am excited to be a part of that journey in the coming years.
Where does Romantica go from here? What are your hopes for the next coming months?
Our focus at the moment is to continue to give the best service for all of our customers, old and new, and to continue to develop the services we provide. We will continue to invest in our relationships with our retailers and will look to continue growing our marketing reach, investment in products and delivery of the goods. Bridal is such an exciting and dynamic industry and if we aren’t constantly pushing forward, then we will end up going backwards. This is why I love what I do and gives everyone at Romantica the energy to keep working hard to help our retailers grow and develop with us.
For more information on the company and collections, visit Romantica of Devon