How heritage kitchen brand Swan grew sales 60% on marketplaces

No primary category set

Not so long ago, nearly every house sported an electrical appliance from Swan, making it one of Britain’s best-loved names, and up until 1986 Swan were the UK’s number one distributor for kettles. With ever-changing consumer habits and trends, some began to wonder if this heritage company would survive the transition into the 21st century.

But Swan was determined not to go the way of many of Britain’s heritage brand names. The 90-year-old company has engineered a dramatic reinvention which has seen the traditional, cosy feel of its products replaced with a stunning range of appliances in tune with the UK’s kitchen tastes.

As a result, Swan has seen huge increases in sales and a renewed position in the nation’s hearts – accelerated along by the company’s decision to embrace ecommerce channels as its primary sales route.

Using a multi-channel approach including an enhanced website and pure play online retailers, Swan has capitalised on the online retailing opportunity and as a result has driven a year-on-year gross sales increase of over 50%.

“Like many retailers in the UK, we have had almost total dependency on ecommerce channels over the past year and so we were fortunate to have already established ourselves online before the pandemic hit. B2C sales have increased by over 500% in the past 12 months and our sales through partnerships with pure play online marketplaces have grown in excess of 60%.

Our digital transformation over the past few years, accelerated by the closure of non-essential retail, has been key to the survival of the brand. By using online channels and marketplaces to retail, we have brought a heritage, British brand into the 21st century. The digital transformation in the last few years has allowed us to connect and communicate with our retailers much more efficiently.”
– Paul Simpson, owner and sales director, Swan

Swan and OnBuy

Swan has enjoyed the majority of its online retailing success with British online marketplace, OnBuy. The brand begun selling with the marketplace in 2019 and has witnessed sales growth accelerate faster with OnBuy than any other pure play online platform. Swan saw year on year sales growth of over 1,000% on OnBuy from 2019 to 2020, with their best-selling range Retro receiving twice as many orders through OnBuy from one year to the next.

Swan trades an average of £30,000 per month on OnBuy and this is projected to grow beyond £50,000 this year. In less than two years, the kitchen brand has sold 6,200 products through OnBuy alone.

Swan has 600 active product listings on OnBuy, with small domestic appliances performing best, selling 4,100 toasters and kettles alone. Swan has also created multipack options with OnBuy to cater to customer demands, allowing customers to buy multiple items as a set in one order.

“We were initially referred to OnBuy through the Department of International Trade and we’ve been really impressed with how it has supported our sales over the past couple of years. Working with OnBuy has hugely broadened our customer base and enabled our department to sell in new ways. We’re now appealing to first-home owners and trendy millennials as a result of selling through eCommerce platforms – and it’s also great to be working with another British business.”
– Paul Simpson, owner and sales director, Swan

OnBuy and other brand partners

OnBuy is also the trusted ecommerce partner for household name brands such as Proctor & Gamble and Emma Mattress. With ecommerce continuing to boom as result of the pandemic, OnBuy is experiencing an uplift in enquiries from big brands wishing to sell on the platform.

OnBuy’s offering for brands includes inventory management, category administration and guidance for authorised retailers as well as other benefits to support online sales growth and increased brand exposure.

“We have worked hard over the past four years to optimise our offering for brands and are really pleased Swan is benefiting from those efforts. We are providing brands with an alternative marketplace to consider as they explore additional online retail platforms. OnBuy provides brands with a quality ecommerce function that is secure and trusted.”
– Cas Paton, founder and CEO, OnBuy

Evidence from recent months suggest that Swan’s online sales will accelerate even further in 2021, with the first half of the brand’s financial year recording twice as many sales as the same period last year.

This success is mirrored in OnBuy’s own achievements. OnBuy announced its best year so far in 2020, which saw it achieve 605% year to date growth. The marketplace continues to grow and achieved 830% year on year growth in February this year.


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