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Bruce McLaren

How confident do you feel about business this summer?
I’m having a holiday, so it can’t be that bad. If the weather stays fairly decent, I might just about be pleased.

What are the biggest challenges facing you?
Keeping costs down with ever-increasing business rates, and other rising costs. I will be running a tight ship, which is important if the economy continues to stutter.

Who are your main competitors?
The big high street presence is High and Mighty, but it’s more expensive than us.

Which brands are selling well in your store at the moment?
On the casual end, Ben Sherman and Hast, along with Lee Cooper Jeans. With shirts, Lane Taylor and Casemoda.

Which trends are doing well?
Mixed linen shirts have worked well. Big blokes used to turn their noses up at them. T-shirts with logos are doing well and guys are looking for more colours, such as pink and lemons, in the past they stuck more to blacks and greys.

Which trends will be key for autumn 08?
It will be more of the same, but less shirts and suits.

Which trade shows do you go to?
Moda, Hotel shows and I’m a member of the IMC Group.

Do you advertise, where?
Yes, in the local press, yellow pages and on the web. We’re not in a prime location outside Woking, so we have to spend money on advertising.

Do you have transactional website?
We have, but it’s not fully transactional. We’ll be launching a fully transactional website this week. It will service the UK and Ireland. The new site will also offer dual prices with Euros.

Are you expanding at all?
We will concentrate on expanding online. I am looking to generate more business from the Republic of Ireland, the market presents a great opportunity.

How is business at the moment?
Up and down, sales are flat compared to last year. Bigger ticket items have been harder to sell. At the casual end sales are moving, at the formal end they aren’t. Suits are just not selling like previous years. In the mix, we have 50:50 casual to formal, but at the moment 70% of sales are coming from casualwear.

How many stores do you have?
One store, we’re a small independent.

Your store is very niche-what do you specialise in?
In plus-size menswear, so we have sizes ranging from 44 inch waist up to 70 inch, and 46 inch chest up to 70 inch.

How is the independent menswear market overall?
It’s tough, and we’re not immune. People have got money to spend, but are not confident about spending it. We are constantly looking at costs.

Which trends are helping to drive buisness?
Casualwear is increasing, we’re stocking more and more jeans compared to previous years, so for next season we won’t be buying as many suits. Mixed linen shirts have worked well. Big blokes used to turn their noses up at them. T-shirts with logos are doing well and guys are looking for more colours, such as pink and lemons, in the past they stuck more to blacks and greys.

Which brands are selling well in your store at the moment?
On the casual end, Ben Sherman along with Lee Cooper Jeans. With shirts, Lane Taylor and Casa Moda.

Bruce McLaren is owner of plus-size menswear independent Dalziel Kingsize menswear in Woking, Surrey

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