Dobell is a formal menswear e-commerce business which started in the basement of a hotel on the seafront of Eastbourne. Now a multi-million-pound enterprise, they design and sell thousands of their own-brand clothes, shoes and accessories as well as designer-label products. The business is available to over 60 countries worldwide through 11 country-specific websites. They offer a large choice of affordable formal wear available with a reputation for quality and service from over 20,000 independent 5-star reviews.
The idea for the business came to Mike Dobell, co-owner and founder of Dobell, while travelling around Asia, having a break from his studies, as he recalled the process of shopping for a tuxedo for university a tricky task. With rising giants like Amazon making an impact in other parts of e-commerce but not catering to his particular niche, he recognised a gap in the market for quality formal menswear at a reasonable price. Dropping out of university, he set up Dobell in the basement of his father’s hotel in Eastbourne.
Within the first six months of the business starting out it had rapidly grown meaning the basement of the hotel could no longer support the growth of the company. He moved the company within Eastbourne to an industrial park in Hampden Park.
Tim Grimaldi, a lifelong friend (of Mike Dobell) joined the business later on (in 2011). At the time Grimaldi was running his own successful digital marketing agency in Brighton. He wanted to concentrate on building a single business and when the idea of joining Dobell came around it was the perfect opportunity, from there the business of Dobell increased rapidly.
Due to high demand for their products in January 2016, they decided to again re-locate into a bigger space. However, this time they looked further afield and compared area’s in London and Brighton, but nothing compared to the reasonable rent they found for a unit in Eastbourne.
While the company has grown and expanded worldwide, its ethos has stayed the same, to deliver choice, quality and unbeatable value, alongside comprehensive style advice and the very best customer care.
They are proud suppliers to a number of national and international corporate and trade clients, including film companies, theatres, music groups, hotels and businesses. They provide uniforms for organisations such as hotels, restaurants shops and businesses through to costumes for groups such as theatres, film and production companies, orchestras and choirs. They supply to consumers and prestigious brands alike, including British Airways, James Bond films, Disney, Coca-Cola, The BBC, ITV, Playboy, MTV and Porsche.
In January 2016, due to a rise in demand and their success in online retail for their products, the pair decided they needed to expand into a bigger unit within Eastbourne, a town which had served them well in the first ten years of the business.
“We found a bigger unit in Brampton Business Park in Hampden Park which was everything we needed,” said Mike. “Some of the many benefits included being close to the train station, big yard space and reasonable rent compared to nearby Brighton and London.”
Although the space fitted with their requirements, the building did need renovations. Dobell’s sought help from business support service Locate East Sussex and was loaned £100k. This came from the East Sussex Invest growth scheme, funded by East Sussex County Council and administered by business support service, Locate East Sussex.
Mike said: “The money provided through Locate East Sussex was vital for our growth. It helped us upgrade our warehouse management software, kit out a photo studio and put in workbenches, amongst many other vital pieces of equipment.
“Eastbourne has been a great platform to develop the business. It is a perfect place for work/life balance and suits modern day working needs. We are close to London and the M25 for when we do need to travel around the country and the world, but we don’t have to commute every day, and neither do our staff, meaning morale is higher and productivity of our staff is better."
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