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Brands must back their indie stockists

Brands are not thinking about the long-term damage to relationships

There’s a hint of irony in what has turned out to be the hottest debate of the week among the independent sector. Indies are furious with suppliers that have sold current season branded stock to discount websites. How have they expressed their anger? Online, via the Drapers Independent Retailer Forum on LinkedIn.

It just goes to show how influential the internet has become in our industry. Numerous indies have joined the debate online, while in print this week’s Talking Shop columnist Bashir Mohammed expresses his views and our News Analysis delves deeper into the subject.

You can understand why suppliers have used discount sites to shift unsold stock. Brands have blamed stockists who have failed to honour forward orders, and with the withdrawal of credit insurance, a tough trading climate and the weather aggravating the problem further, suppliers say they have “no other option”.

But my worry is that by taking this stance, brands are not thinking about the long-term damage to their relationships with indie stockists, and are instead looking for a quick fix.

The UK has a strong value sector that is doing a great job of offering cheaper product while dedicated discount websites sell past-season merchandise. But it’s a step too far to bring indies into this, who pride themselves on the care they take in showcasing brands in their stores.

On a better note, it was excellent to see so many industry leaders celebrating what is great about our sector at last week’s Drapers Great British Fashion party.

Readers' comments (1)

  • I think selling current product simultaneously through full-price and discount channels is always an own goal for brands. It is driven by the short-term need for sales growth in a sector ravaged by the recent decline in consumer confidence, so it's understandable that all options are on the table. But the blurring of price points damages brand equity in the long term.

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