Drapers probes leading independents to get their View From the Shop Floor
How is business going at the moment?
I would say that business is not too bad at the moment, pretty much like for like with last year I would say. Our web sales have really picked up in the last few months and now make up nearly 30% of out takings.
Have you felt under any pressure to have discounts as larger stores have been putting on sales recently?
It seems like everyone is discounting at the moment, but personally I really hate to do it. As an independent, it’s really difficult for us to do markdowns; the larger stores can afford to take those kinds of risks. Instead of reducing prices we do other value-added services. We like to provide a little bit extra for our customers. For example, people from the brand Miss Mandalay are coming into our shop in the next few weeks to talk to our customers about bra fitting and styles that suit them.
How do the think that the lingerie market is coping in the current climate?
Everyone will always want to buy lingerie and splash out every now and again. You want to buy something that makes you feel good. Even though people are being more frugal with their clothes, they will want to wear something nice underneath them.
Shops have to be flexible to adapt to the recession. In the lingerie industry you have to buy in advance. We usually buy about six months in advance so the last order we made was before the economy got really bad. Forward thinking is the only way to stay afloat, although many smaller lingerie boutiques don’t have the resources to be able to do this.
What can independents do to set themselves apart?
Everyone really seems to be focusing on customer service at the moment. In order to do well you have to know who your customers are and how to look after them. We have a lot of regular customers who we like to look after. We always provide customers with a cup of tea or a glass of champagne and if they come in with partners, we like to make sure they are comfortable.
What are your best-selling brands and styles at the moment?
We have got a new brand called Pleasure State which is exclusive to us in Scotland; it is really flying off the shelves. There seems to have been a real movement towards shape-wear lingerie. We have some really pretty ranges.
Some lingerie groups, such as Fig Leaves have decided to start stocking menswear and womenswear. Do you have any plans to branch out into new categories?
We want to grow as much as we can within lingerie. We did introduce a range of men’s underwear at Christmas which has been selling well. We want to focus all our efforts on what we’re doing now, it’s best to stick to what you know.
- Fiona McLean is co-director of two-store lingerie indie Boudiche in Glasgow and Edinburgh
- Brands include Freya, La Perla, Pleasure State, Prima Donna