20 years in business
Started by its entrepreneurial founder Victoria Suffield in 1999, Winchester independent The Hambledon celebrates two decades of trading this September. Pitching itself as a kind of mini-department store, the business offers a carefully curated range of contemporary women’s and men’s wear, homeware, gifts and beauty. It is one to watch in the independent sector, thanks to a beautifully presented store and perfect understanding of its customer.
In 2016, The Hambledon picked up two gongs at the Drapers Independents Awards, taking home the prizes for Best Lifestyle Independent and Independent Retailer of the Year.
“We work within our expertise and the shop has always felt like us, and that has been key to our success,” Suffield tells Drapers as she reflects on 20 years in business. “I always wanted to create a really lovely experience, and that has never been diluted.”
Retail is not an easy industry, particularly in the independent sector, where entrepreneurs are faced with competition from larger players and spiralling operating costs.
Suffield’s advice to anyone seeking to make their mark in this sector of the fashion industry is to always know their own mind: “You can’t be indecisive in this industry because it just makes it 10 times harder to do anything. Being opinionated is half the battle, whether you’re going to a buying department or you’re hiring staff.”
She adds that the biggest change during her time at the business has been the retail industry’s digital transformation: “There was no way of knowing 20 years ago just how enormously different the world would look because of the rise of digital, and there have been all sorts of repercussions. Not only do we have to operate in the traditional way, but we have to have a fully functional online strand to the business.
“You can either have the attitude of ‘Houston, we have a problem’ or ‘Houston, we have an opportunity’, and we’ve always gone for the latter.”
To mark its anniversary, the Hambledon is launching exclusive products with brands including Carhartt and Pyrus, as well as hosting an in-store exhibition and releasing a one-off publication.