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Close-Up preview: Q&A with Andy Dunkley

Drapers gives you an exclusive preview of this week’s Close-Up with Andy Dunkley, chief executive of British denim brand Lee Cooper.

What is your opinion on tradeshows, are they as relevant as they used to be?

We used to do Bread and Butter but we found that we were getting diminishing returns. A lot of shows have lost their direction in what they are. Now we have our own show, we invite our business partners down, we let them see the product and have a good time. Our customers prefer to come to London, they can chill out, network, we take them to the east end where the brand originated and we are focused on making that a great week for them; it works. The tradeshows were not achieving what we wanted to do, [and] for the money you spend I don’t think they are as relevant as they used to be. Or at least they haven’t been effective for us.

Did the changeable weather over the summer affect sales?

Weather changes, if you’ve got the right product and the right planning you always end up on top and it’s important to hold the course, keep focused on it and not to panic. I think it’s important not to discount too soon, because consumers start to expect that and they just defer purchase.

What do you think of the recent campaigning to lower business rates?

The amount of taxes paid on some stores is incredible. Shops create a lot of jobs and when you think about it, what would you prefer, to pay property tax or pay peoples wages? It’s a real challenge, particularly when you consider that online retailers don’t get taxed for property.  There is a lot of work to do. We need high streets that are alive with variety; we need to make sure the UK is in a great place.

What do you think of Selfridge’s denim studio?

I think Selfridges is a fantastic store. It has created a theatre around denim which is lovely, but it is just focusing on jeans and I want to make sure that we are much more of a lifestyle brand. I’m not sure if shop is a good thing for the denim market, because does the consumer know enough about denim to differentiate between the different brands? It’s difficult to communicate the different qualities of the jeans; if not careful we’ll get into a cycle where the consumer is just looking at price as their quality marker guide.

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