Marriage made in Heaven: Meet the £15m wedding gifts company taking on Amazon and John Lewis

Company Profile | Retail | South West

When you think about it – weddings is an industry that isn’t going to disappear any time soon. There is a certain inevitability to it and tying the knot is a multibillion-pound global industry.

Founded in 2011 by husband and wife team Dom Beaven (previously a Managing Director at Future Publishing) and Ali Beaven (previously an Interior Designer) – Prezola calls itself the UK’s favourite on-line wedding gift list providers and is on a mission to take wedding gifts into the digital century – taking on the likes of Harrods, Amazon and John Lewis.

The business currently turns over £15m and employ over 50 staff, with a head office located in Bath and a warehouse in Westbury.

How does the business work?

The way the business works is simple. Couples register online and create their wedding gift list from around 50,000 products – from over 500 brands – listed on the website. The audience is intentionally millennial and high-end, with Dom and Ali careful curators of the brands they associate themselves with.

Charity and cash donations can also form part of the list and the process is end to end, with guests coming to the website to buy and once the couples have finalised their list, the Prezola team purchase the gifts and make a consolidated shipment to the couple after the wedding.

Regarding the numbers, the business has seen a rapid rise. And in May 2017 additional funding was brought on to turbo charge growth. This saw the Business Growth Fund (BGF) pump £3m into the business in May 2017. Tellingly this was the only investment BGF made in the South West during 2017.

As part of this investment, Dom says they worked with BGF to establish a new board of experts covering finance, branding and logistic.

What does the future hold?

So, what does the future hold for Prezola.

Dom explains: “On average, Prezola currently work with around thirty thousand couples a year but there are 300k weddings take place each year, which means there is a huge amount of the market to go at.”

Regarding the businesses’ five-year plan – Dom comments: “The plan is for continued growth. A little while ago we had to make the decision if we are an e-commerce or wedding business and we decided we’re the latter. Following this we acquired Getting Married – which bolsters our offering as this is an invitation and bookings platform that allows the user to manage everything else to do with their wedding, in one centralised place.”

Ali goes on to say that weddings, interestingly, are still analogue and often organised via a spreadsheet, which is unusual comped to how a person now typically organises their life.

“Many people expect to be able to everything on their phone. Gift lists have been around for 200 years and traditionally you would go to your local department store to arrange them. We’ve taken an old tradition and modernised it for a new online audience; and we’re at the forefront of this shift.”

Ali and Dom say that the target for the business is £50 turnover in five years and this will be helped by international expansion – with Australia and USA as target markets – but of course, there are challenges.

Dom comments: “Our business is seasonal so initial expansion into Australia will give us two summers and we then plan to target other countries.

“Our revenue comes from the couple getting married and their guests who buy the gifts. Of course, when consumer confidence is down this can hit and there are some major economic and political challenges; but I believe consumer are bored of hearing about them and despite some worrying sign in 2017 we haven’t seen a major impact and basket values remain stable.”

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