The Cambium Group

The Basics

Cambium is the home of three leading UK wedding gift list brands: The Wedding Shop (TWS), The Wedding Present Company (WPC) and Prezola. Each brand helps engaged couples build a list of gifts that they would like to receive for their wedding. Gift lists can consist of anything from homewares, art, furniture, technology, baby products, subscriptions, experiences, charity or honeymoon contributions and more, with products available from many leading brands. Once couples decide to make their list live, guests can purchase their chosen gifts from a dedicated website. Cambium fulfils the items on the list after the wedding. WPC also has its own showroom and TWS has a townhouse showroom as well as a showroom in Selfridges, which couples can visit for inspiration and to obtain expert guidance as they build their list.  

The Story

Phoenix’s investment manager made a personal investment in TWS back in 2002 that was then sold in 2013. However, the buyers went into administration after just 15 months and it was repurchased again for a token amount, primarily to protect the company and prevent any harm to the couples getting married at that time. Embracing Buffett’s mantra of being a better investor because of being a businessman and a better businessman because of being an investor, Gary became directly involved in the shaping of the business strategy.

With an obsessive focus on the customer, investing in innovation and digital marketing, lists at TWS grew rapidly from 300 in 2015 to 4,000 in 2018 and traditional competitors like House of Fraser, Debenhams, Harrods, Amara and Not On The High Street withdrew from the market. In 2016, TWS acquired WPC and in 2019, after having fiercely competed against each other, TWS merged with Prezola, one of the most successful pure online players. John Lewis and Amazon are the key competitors now, with John Lewis recently replacing their dedicated wedding gift list service with a generic wish list.

The two-year integration with Prezola is almost complete and a restructuring due to the pandemic has resulted in a much leaner logistics operation with just one warehouse and one headquarters in Barnes. Marketing spend is now focused on organic growth, building the market and taking share from John Lewis. The three brands have also been refreshed to appeal to their relevant cohort of couples to entice them to add more inspirational product to their lists using the latest technology and e-commerce.

One of the UK’s leading wedding planning platforms, Rock My Wedding (RMW), was also acquired in 2019 and underwent a revamp in 2020. Providing inspiration and planning tools for engaged couples, RMW acts as a gateway for the Cambium brands and plays a key role in the Group’s marketing strategy. As sustainability becomes an increasingly important consideration for couples, RMW also launched Recycle My Wedding, an online platform that enables users to buy and sell pre-loved wedding attire and accessories.

The Opportunity

Smart digital advertising and social media is the engine to getting more couples to register with Cambium. The work continues to keep driving higher value and higher product share to these lists and creating more operational leverage to drive greater margins from back-end efficiencies and the brand suppliers.

In light of the successful UK vaccination programme against Covid-19, Cambium is expected to emerge from the pandemic as the number one player in the market as weddings rebound with the huge pent-up demand from weddings deferred from 2020, whilst its main competitor (John Lewis) retreats.

Other opportunities include a baby list offering as the desire for a baby registry makes its way to the UK from the US, and The Homeware Outlet, which not only sells excess stock but will be its own online interiors and homeware business that leverages the current knowledge and supplier relationships.  With a huge database of couples and guests, this has the potential to be even more valuable than the wedding business as we decorate our homes more often than we get married.

Careers at The Cambium Group

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