A while back, this publication asked leading retailers: "What is the Greatest Need of the Trade?" The answer from a London store operator was as follows: "Less frequent Sales. Legal reduction of the hours of labour." The respondent was Peter Jones (yes, the man who founded the store on Sloane Square). The date of the issue was 5 January 1901 - yes, 119 years ago. So I say "Good luck" to those calling for Sales regulation. The UK fashion industry is hooked like an pathetic addict on discounting and not even COVID-19 will cure it of that.
Excellent news and good luck to all concerned! The A Hume shops are well worth a visit if you are in the Kelso area (and if not, there is always the website). The William Lockie factory shop in Hawick is also a must-see destination for those who appreciate expertly-made Scottish knitwear.
RIP Craig. He was a hugely influential figure in the industry when I joined Drapers Record in 1980 and Star Executives, his recruitment firm, was one of the mag's top advertisers. In 1970 he famously took a full-page ad in the Classified section advertising a sales director position at the colossal salary of £12,000 a year, which equates to about £185,000 today. With his money-raising efforts in his later years, he certainly put something back to the industry. The fishing days he and Marjie hosted every summer pulled in some very big names and were very entertaining. My condolences go to Marjie and Claire. Craig's was a life well-lived.
This is sad news. David Jones was a quiet and dignified leader who did an amazing job of rescuing Next from the brink of collapse and setting it on course to be a powerhouse of fashion and much more besides.
In 2004, as editorial director of Drapers, I awarded David the magazine's second Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his extraordinary turnaround success. On the table at the Awards dinner were former senior members of David's team, such as Kate Bostock and Tony O'Connor, and it was obvious how much they revered their former boss.
Even back then he was taking literally dozens of pills a day to control his Parkinson's. What a retailer he was.
The first recipient of the Drapers Lifetime Achievement in 2003 was George Davies, who had been fired from Next in 1988 and replaced by David, his deputy. George was mightily pleased with getting the Award for his unique achievement of creating three successful brands - Next, George at Asda and Per Una for M&S. He was delighted for David's Award too and called him up to congratulate him. I was told it was the first time they had spoken since George was ousted in 1988.
Drapers is being exceedingly generous and/or naive to describe All Good Things as "new", "sustainable", "innovative" and a "solution to retail’s landfill legacy". It's just selling old stock, which specialist companies have been doing for decades and these days is best exemplified by TK Maxx. Not that long ago, the Classified ads section of the magazine carried lots of ads from "jobbers", who bought up old stock for distribution through effective if unsophisticated channels like markets. Some of us remember when menswear veteran Roger Dack organised hugely popular "warehouse Sales" in London's King Cross where this sort of dead stock was shifted. Even the rental element of All Good Things is not new, innovative etc - Moss Bros has been hiring out menswear for decades and renting women's occasionwear (inc hats) is not a new idea (even if PRs write a press release saying it is). Getting rid of old / unsold / unwanted stock is an age-old problem for the clothing industry and the "sustainable" solution is not to make too much in the first place, but that is easier said than done. Good luck to all involved in All Good Things, but if people are spending in there, in consequence there will be unsold stock sitting and hanging somewhere else. This country is over-shopped already and that is a major problem for the sector.
The "commitment" to Never Knowingly Undersold is a commitment fromJohn Lewis to throw money down the drain while House of Fraser and Debenhams are in their discounting death throes. It will only get worse this season with the Black Friday to January Sales price-cutting nonsense. Let's hope the new chairwoman knocks some sense into senior heads at JL.
Congratulations to all the winners, but especially to my pal Hilary Cookson - nice to see a fine career in indie retailing opp north being recognised. Hats off too to all the sponsors and the entire team at Drapers, including Kirsty and Graeme and Laura from the Events team. Now go and have a drink (Oh, you are doing that already...)
Many congratulations, Kirsty. When I hired you in 2014, I did tell you you'd be editor one day. It's nice to be right for a change! It's a fabulous job and you will be fabulous in the role.
Congratulations to Keely for doing a brilliant job steering the good ship Drapers in these demanding times. Fat Face has made an excellent decision to hire her. Best of luck to Kirsty in her new role. With her team at Drapers, she will do a fabulous job.
RIP Arthur Ryan, one of the great talents of the retail trade. He steadfastly refused to be interviewed by Drapers (or anyone else) for many years. Only when he passed the reins on to Paul Marchant did he feel able to talk to the media. When I finally chatted to him, I found him open, articulate and modest, with a lovely dry turn of phrase. Whether you like Primark or not, there's no denying that Arthur Ryan changed the way Britain and Ireland and beyond shops. My condolences to his family, the Primark team and his friends.