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Drapers Interview preview: Q&A with Guy Hudson and Paul Lown

Ahead of this weekend’s edition of Drapers, we give you a sneak-peek of our Drapers Interview with Guy Hudson, owner and Paul Lown, manager, of two-store premium indie Lynx in Harrogate.

Q: Was the plan always to have your menswear store, which opened in 2003, separate from the womenswear store, which opened in 1985?

A: [Hudson] “Yes, the plan was never to put it in the same building, even though we had the space. I think it’s only in very few situations that men’s and women’s work successfully side by side in the same unit.”

[Lown] “You wouldn’t be doing the right thing if you didn’t have the men’s separate, just in case you had to chop it off at some point. And the other way around.”

Q: The stores are both on the same road, West Park in Harrogate. Why did you choose this location originally?

A: [Hudson] “I wanted to be where we are now, which is a definite destination shopping area. When I originally saw the unit, I thought we wouldn’t survive at this end of Harrogate, but then it’s the main artery into town and the tourists come here. Before we bought the unit, I sat here for two Saturdays feeding coins into the parking meter, watching the flow of customers, and I realised the calibre was very strong. If you come most days of the week, the expensive cars are at this end of town and there are plenty of them.”

Q: Lynx Womenswear opened in 1985, but moved to West Park in 1997. Where was it before?

A: [Hudson] “It was on the fringe of the bus station [Station Parade], so one of the last central retail streets you can be on. We were fighting against the elements with the bus station; there was an issue with the council and accommodation for the buses so they were parking in front of the shop. Anyone not familiar with the town would come to the corner, see a line of buses and we were [hidden].”

Q: What happened after the move?

A: [Hudson] “We closed the store on the Saturday night and opened here on West Park on Monday morning. The business took 50% more money overnight with exactly the same stock just in a nicer surrounding. What frustrated me was Harrogate residents saying to me “Oh the town’s been waiting for a shop like this for years” and we’d been there for twelve years. But some people from Leeds would say “We only go down this parade and then back to Leeds.” So it’s position, position, position [that’s important].

We’re in the golden triangle; Leeds, York, and Harrogate. People looking in from London and regions in the south would presume if you’re going to open anywhere in that triangle you’re going to get massive takings. But they forget about the cold February days when there’s tumbleweed blowing through the store and they just look at the good times when there’s people around. You’ve got to be local to make it work well, and you’ve got to be hands on and running it and in touch with the local trading situation.”

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