June 27, 2012, 9:36 AM

British jeweler Boodles launches an e-commerce site

The retailer sets a goal of generating 10% of sales online within five years.

Lead Photo

One of the oldest jewelers in Britain is refreshing its online presence with a new e-commerce site, which it hopes will generate 1 million pounds (US$1.5 million) worth of sales in its first year.

Boodles, which opened its first store in 1798, says the new site will help the company expand its international distribution and allow visitors to access its entire product range online. “Our international reputation has grown significantly over the last few years and we needed a vehicle to reach our customers and potential customers who couldn’t get to one of our shops,” says Boodles director James Amos.

The new web site, at Boodles.com, focuses on selling jewelry at prices ranging from 500 pounds (US $782) up to 20,000 pounds (US $31,284). While the site sells many of its items direct to consumers online, some of the items require customers to fill out a form and have a customer service representative contact them regarding a purchase.

In its first few days, consumers from such cities as Hong Kong, New York and London made purchases through the site. The site ships to 40 markets and all prices are in U.K. pounds. The company has not spent on online marketing in the past but says it plans to now that is sells online.  Amos adds that the company wants the site to account for 10% of annual sales within five years.

“Boodles is a traditional British family-owned jewelry company with a heritage dating back to 1798. However the company has always embraced opportunities to develop and change, and the digital age is no exception,” Amos says. “I would like to see Boodles become a leading British luxury brand both online and offline. The aim is to create an exceptional digital experience across multiple channels and interact with our customers in whatever medium they choose.”

The e-retail site was designed and produced by ILN, the digital arm of the Illustrated London News, which itself has a long history as the world’s first illustrated weekly newspaper, with the original issue appearing in 1842.

Boodles was founded as Boodle and Dunthorne and opened its first shop in Liverpool, England, in 1798. It now has 10 bricks-and-mortar stores in locations across the United Kingdom, including several branches in London, and two stores overseas—in Dublin and Hong Kong.  It is still a privately held business, owned by family members, who are also directors of the business.

The company’s overall sales have increased each year for the past four years, increasing from 42 million pounds ($65 million) for the fiscal year ending February 2009, to more than 56 million pounds ($87 million) for the fiscal year ending February 2012. Its net profit for the year ending February 2012 was 6 million pounds ($9 million).

“We have been selling jewelry in our shops for 214 years (since 1798) and we have always been rather traditional,” Amos writes in a blog post announcing the e-commerce site. “We’re an old-fashioned British family business through and through. But, we often say that one of the key reasons we have survived through more than two centuries and a few world wars is because we have been very receptive to change,” 

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