I don’t know which is more disappointing: Coggles falling into administration or the complete lack of support and cruel comments left by “anonymous” supposed peers on the Drapers website.
The news last night that the York indie went into administration is a sad one for our industry.
Coggles was an innovator and its leader Mark Bage a supporter of the fashion business, backing new brands and designers, embracing ecommerce before many indies and always on hand to give advice to fellow retailers.
Of course, something went wrong. The statement from Coggles blames difficult trading conditions in the last two consecutive quarters, but there will be more to it than that.
Some people I’ve spoken to suggested recent service levels were poor and the product became too expensive. As an indie, service can never be compromised and perhaps Mark and the team could have adapted their buying strategy to the tough economic environment and squeezed consumers. Investment into a London office, improved ecommerce platform and marketing will also have taken its toll on cash flow.
But do we really need comments like “good riddance to bad rubbish”? What can we possibly learn from such pointless, vacuous words? At least have the courage to name yourselves.
The matter now turns to the administrators and whether Coggles can be saved. Mike Ashley’s name has come up - of course - but on paper it doesn’t look like his gig. Coggles doesn’t offer the volume Ashley craves. Granted, he bought Flannels, but whilst that may be a more premium indie business like Coggles, Flannels’ brands were largely well-known, heavy hitters, whereas Coggles mixes it up a bit more.
Having said that, I’m no longer surprised by Ashley’s acquisitions. The recent past suggests it could be another Sports Direct vs JD battle. If I were a betting woman and had to pick between the two, my money would be on JD. For now.