JoJo Maman Bebe

Origins

Launched in 1993 by Laura Tenison, in response to a request from a friend for her to design some ‘decent’ clothing for wear during pregnancy. Having just sold her previous business Laura was looking for a new challenge and decided to specialise in the manufacture and retailing by mail order of maternity wear for fashion-conscious working women. After the success of the maternity range (the company turnover increased five fold between the first and second year in business), baby-wear was introduced followed by children’s clothing, nursery products and most recently, toys. With minimal start-up capital, the company grew consistently and slowly. Following a very safe expansion plan, the company has increased turnover each year, never borrowing money and only used a working overdraft.

Success Factor

There are three main factors that have helped the fantastic growth of this business. First of all is innovative products and designs – the business concentrates on being one step ahead of the competition with ‘brilliant ideas’. Secondly, in-house distribution and customer service – all the staff are thoroughly trained on all products they sell. The order operators receive a product knowledge training, which is seldom seen elsewhere in mail order. Each operator knows the stock and has personally seen the items. They are trained to advise buyers on general sizing, how the nursery products work and even which nursing bra would be most suitable. Before the launch of each new catalogue issue, training sessions are held, to ensure the staff really know the new and current stock and these sessions are updated weekly with spot training. Finally, the firm have led the way with mail order & web technology for a company this size and currently attribute 20% of our total sales to Internet orders.

The Future

Having outgrown the previous business premises, the company was unable to continue expanding. In January 2002 the customer service centre and warehouse were moved into a large newly purchased and re-fitted unit in Newport, South Wales. The turnover increased from £4.9M at the end of 2001 to £8M at the end of 2002. This has been achieved by increasing the circulation of the catalogue and launching spin-off catalogues, JoJo Family House and JoJo Perfect Christmas. Marketing activities were increased and the website re-designed and put onto an in-house server thereby offering a ‘live’ order environment with ‘real time’ stock availability. Currently around 20% of orders are received via the Internet. The core catalogue pagination was increased to include more designs and product pages. JoJo Maman Bébé can now claim to have the UK’s no. 1 maternity wear collection. With more styles and colours than any of our competitors on the market place we genuinely do offer the most comprehensive collection. The company aim has been to keep one step ahead of the competition at all times. As an innovative small company, the designs and trends are quickly copied by larger competitors. Constantly pushing out the boundaries, the aim is to remain the leading innovators in the field with the introduction of new products, clever designs for maternity wear and funky baby suits and children’s wear. Due to the limited size of the mail order maternity wear market in the UK, further expansion in the baby and children’s wear and nursery product sectors are essential along with expansion into retail shops and the wholesaling of maternity wear outside the UK.