Although few of us will admit it, we all need a bit of a refresh now and then, whether it’s a simple touch-up or a major reimagining. St Johns Bay Rum, a historic perfume brand founded in 1947 by US naval officer Captain John Webb in the Virgin Islands of St Thomas, has always been famous for its classic bay rum scent (“Smell Like if you were on vacation!”) And his iconic hand-woven palm leaf bottles. A company with a truly differentiated product and a genuine 75-year heritage would seem to have few problems, but soon after the sale of St Johns Bay Rum in 2016 to the Welles brothers, who immediately reinvested in the business, their small factory and their offices. in St Thomas were wiped out by two hurricanes in five days.

And then came the Covid! St Johns Bay Rum CEO Rhys Moore admits a tough few years but is excited about the company’s recent upgrades, powerful new packaging and stronger retail partnerships. “We thought it was time to refresh our shelf appeal, so we hired an agency to upgrade and rebrand. At first, our retail clients shunned the idea of ​​boxes as they liked to show the bottles in sheets palm trees, but our new packaging adds a premium element and allows us to tell our story and discuss each individual scent on the back of the box.

Other facets of the upgrade: new labels and textured paper packaging, all of which are recyclable, as are the iconic palm fronds, handwoven by local artisans. “We are also moving from plastic caps to wood caps, which should be finished by September,” says Moore, adding that although the use of wood triples the price of caps, the company absorbs most of the increases. of costs. “The freight has tripled, the glass is three times what it was; we know we won’t be going back to 2020 costs, but our retailers have been surprisingly understanding. Some even told us that they had already raised their sale prices because they didn’t think our suggested sale prices were high enough! Editor’s Note: The new pricing gives retailers a gross margin of over 56% on the 4-ounce size ($60 retail) and 60% ($80 retail) on the 8-ounce bottle.

Another important element of the brand’s DNA is its long-standing commitment to the Caribbean islands and its new emphasis on directing business to its retail partners. In addition to their own distribution (independent specialty stores, interesting apothecaries and some cool boutiques) and strict price controls, their website continues to list and add new retail partners, most recently MSMcClellan in Knoxville, The Squire Shop in Fort Worth, Nic’s Toggery in Tallahassee and Black Tie in Oklahoma City. For the record, the best-selling perfumes are still Classic Bay Rum and West Indian Lime, but the more modern perfumes (No. 77 and Vetiver, more sophisticated but still island) are catching up quickly.

For more information: Rhys Moore at [email protected]


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