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How 4 friends’ digital-first strategy helped Castlery blossom after 9 years

From a small basement office in Ubi, Castlery now boasts a 24,000 square feet flagship store in Orchard Road. How did the co-founders achieve this?

Video transcript


DECLAN EE: We started in October, 2013. And when we started, we-- there was no option in the market for well-designed furniture at what we call an honest and fair price point. So we saw many inefficiencies in the industry. I had to ship a lot of my own furniture in from UK when I came back.

My partner had ended the same by going straight to the factories. And we saw an opportunity. And I think we were both, I think, left- and right-brained thinkers. We enjoy the process of building something, creating something, but at the same time, being very rational about it. And we thought this was something which was missing in the market. And honestly, the joy of having an amazing space is something we wanted to let everyone have a choice to have. So that was the key inspiration.

We want to be the leading furniture brand globally for the kind of urban millennial generation. And this means we're targeting customers each between 25 to 45, earning between 75,000 to 150,000. So you can say, yes, it's mid-market or mass luxury, if you would, so the back to our core product proposition of making luxury living accessible to discerning urban millennials.

And so we do this by providing them pretty much a space to thrive through every season of their lives. Because this is a period where there are so many changes, right? And we just want them to have an amazing space through all of that.

So I think if you look at GDP per capita in Singapore, 60-something, 70,000, our average order value. People come here by between [INAUDIBLE]. You can furnish your home. If you think about a key pieces of a home-- sofa, dining set, and a bit-- if you buy all three from us, it's under 10,000 or sometimes even under 8,000. If you consider that as a percentage of what a home costs, I mean, I would argue that is accessible and is affordable for what we provide.

We haven't set the details of the investment but, yeah, we've been pretty prudent. I think we've not gone down a route in terms of aggressive fundraising. It's been really step by step. Once we get to a certain scale, either we invest more equity or we reinvest the profits. And we try to structure working capital lines because that's really a big part of the business, your trade lines.

I mean, we've always been in touch, speaking with potential investors every year, just it's a good process to go through to clarify your thinking as well and understand the market. But it's really about fit. So if something comes along and it makes sense. And our long-term goal is to be a leading global furniture brand for the next generation. And if investor is aligned and can help us do that and in line with the values of the company, we are open. But it's not-- we're not in urgent need to fundraise.

That's very far out. But, yeah, I mean, you want to build the right foundation. And I think the rest will take care of itself, whether you IPO, or is a stake sale, or it's just becoming a solid company then you pay our dividend, it's one and the same. I think that's where we are focused now, to kind of get to scale globally. I think in Singapore, we have a certain level of scale but to get to scale globally is where the key management, the founders, we are very focused on for the next three to five years.