The past year was good for my shop. Turnover was up, overheads were kept in check and my profit targets were achieved. What has been crucial, I believe, is that the stock has been better than ever. I have toughened up and will no longer buy brands out of loyalty. If they do not perform on my sell-through spreadsheets, they will not get a look-in the following season.
In terms of my store, I have experienced sales staff and they all ensure that the high standards of customer service we are known for are maintained. At quiet times I never sit back and expect customers to walk through the door. Instead, we hold a calendar of events to tempt customers into the store, either in conjunction with other businesses or in aid of charity.
All that sounds good, but what comes next? If I have learnt anything from 2006 it has been the importance of creating a work-life balance, so I have decided against opening another store at the moment. Things are going well, so I have decided to enjoy that and create a solid foundation, rather than rush in and overstretch. The added overheads and staff problems would keep me awake at night.
I have also said no to producing a Jane Davidson own label. It is easy to kid yourself that you have a strong brand, but in my heart of hearts I know my strength is in editing from the runway collections, not as a fashion designer.
However, I am ambitious and always keen to take the shop further, so I have said yes to creating a transactional website. Consequently I am spending every spare moment searching the web for ideas and picking the brains of people I know who already have a transactional site.
Another big decision has been to recruit a manager for the store to free up some of my time. In order to keep the stock as fresh as I would like it to be, I have to buy all year, not just during the traditional buying seasons.
As my mum says, retail is not easy - if there was a crystal ball you could look into for the answers, everyone would be doing it. I promise to keep you informed as to how things pan out.
- Sarah Davidson is the owner of designer womenswear retailer Jane Davidson in Edinburgh.