A COMMONPLACE industrial unit in Huddersfield holds a secret inside – a breathtaking display of bridalwear.
The flagship store for family firm Elite Bridal Outlets features glittering chandeliers suspended from the 32ft high ceiling and row upon row of pristine bridal gowns.
The store at Ringway Industrial Estate is the latest in the chain of Elite Bridal Boutique Outlets run by the Wilson family. The company has other sites at Castleford and Hull.
Owners Joanne and Richard Wilson are at the helm of the business with their children taking key roles as directors of the company.
Joanne and daughter Holly Ann head the design team.
Holly said she took inspiration for her designs from the fabrics, adding: “I am always keen to find out the next trend in lace or beading.
“My grandmother and her love for her garden has also inspired me to look to nature and flowers, which comes useful when working on new design patterns.
“Growing up in the family business has made me the person I am today.
“At 18 I found my passion for bridal. I remember the days when I’d walk round our first shop in my mum’s high heels.
“I watched how she would build a relationship with her customers, understanding their needs.
“She taught me about how important the role of a bridal consultant and designer is.
“You are helping that bride make one of the biggest decisions of her life.”
Joanne said: “I’ve always been interested in fashion from a young age.
“I started out with evening gowns and occasion wear and eventually expanded into bridal.”
Commenting on the success of the business, she said: “The business grew faster than I imagined.
“We face daily challenges – from keeping up with the latest trends to providing daily social media content.
“The bridal industry has changed so much in 12 years and I can see it changing more in the future.
“People’s buying habits have changed. Weddings happen seven days a week as opposed to the old Saturday/Sunday weddings.”
She added: “It is extremely important to us to keep the ‘boutique experience’ – I want all of our customers to feel important.
“I know there are outlets where you can buy a dress off a hanger and help yourself into the dress, but that’s not us!
“We still strongly feel that all customers should receive the same quality of service no matter how big or small your budget.”
Richard said: “As a business, we took the decision to design and manufacture our own gowns way back in 2009.
“Up until then we had followed the traditional route of viewing next years designs and collections at the various trade shows and ordering up to 18 months ahead. But we felt our customers wanted better choice, more up-to-date styles and, of course, better prices.
“By designing in Huddersfield for our own Yorkshire customers we are able to reflect their design choices and also react quicker to changes in styles and colours.
“Royalty, high society and social media stars can influence trends and we can react to this far quicker than most bridal suppliers.
“For example, when Kate Middleton married Prince William in a gorgeous lace gown, we found so many of our brides wanted something similar and were able to react to this within weeks using our in-house design team.
“As we also control the manufacturing process and deal directly with the factories.”
Richard said: “Over the next five years we hope our Huddersfield showroom will become as established and well-known as our other stores in Yorkshire.
“We hope to expand our design team in our head office, possibly in partnership with the University of Huddersfield and we may also increase the number of staff creating gorgeous samples of bridal, bridesmaid and flower girl dresses, possibly by recruiting apprentices.
“Our wholesale division will expand throughout the UK this year before we start to work with bridal businesses in Spain, France, Italy and the rest of Europe from 2019 onwards. Exciting times are ahead.”