Your browser is no longer supported. For the best experience of this website, please upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Editor's Comment: Government must step in to stop more high street casualties

When we asked retailers at the end of last year for their predictions for 2018, there were a few recurring themes: uncertainty around Brexit, the importance of product and the increasing need to offer exceptional customer service.

There was also the less positive forecast that 2018 will bring more casualties in the fashion industry, and unfortunately we’re already seeing evidence of this. 

Of course, January is traditionally a tough time for fashion. As Skechers managing director Peter Youell pointed out in our predictions, a successful end-of-year trading period is the make or break for many. Sadly, this appears to have been true for womenswear retailer East, which collapsed into administration again this week, blaming tough trading – despite reporting a rise in like-for-likes over Christmas.

Juice Corporation, the owner of brands such as Gabicci, Joe Bloggs and Elizabeth Emanuel, has also initiated insolvency proceedings.

And it is not just clothing retailers that have succumbed: it emerged this week that JD Sports is taking steps to close its once-popular footwear business Cloggs. Ex-managing director Chris Thomas tweeted thoughts that I imagine will be echoed by many in the industry: “Very sad to see my former business end its journey like this. It’s produced many fine staff and memories over the years, very proud still to have started it all. Ecommerce and retail is an unforgiving place. It’s survival of the fittest.”

I feel for those who have lost their jobs as a result of these closures, especially as it comes against a backdrop of redundancies across the fashion retail landscape, from Arcadia Group to Pentland Brands and House of Fraser.

None of this is easy, but difficult decisions may be the only way to keep the high street alive. It is important to restructure and adapt to changing shopping patterns.

However, there is only so much individual businesses can do: we must also look to the government to help.

A report by business services firm EY, published this week, found that rising costs and unsteady consumer confidence contributed to an increase in profit warnings and insolvencies last year. In response, the Treasury Select Committee has called on the government to provide more assistance to retailers, and Drapers wholeheartedly backs this call.

The fashion industry is resilient, but this week has shown that it needs help to survive the challenges ahead. 

Readers' comments (2)

  • darren hoggett

    Whilst this article makes some very valid points, helping out from the government of the day is a complete red herring.

    There is very little any government can do to make badly run businesses run well. To make that happen you need the right people in the right places. Any 'sweeteners' from the government wouldn't make a scrap of difference. You would still be seeing the administrations, redundancies and closures, because the trade in laymen's terms can't get it's act together.

    It is bloated, complacent and inefficient.

    The physical retailing needs to be downsized significantly in the light of online behaviour and changes of shopping culture. Yet we still have the old adage of too many shops, selling too much product, too cheaply, too often. Adversity over triumph.

    The industry needs a complete and total overhaul if it is to remain relevant and thrive in the years ahead, instead of being a bloated institution that relies on former glories and constantly looking for excuses.

    But as one brand designer said 'It's not about making money'(!). Well, that is rubbish! With comments like that, it is of no surprise that retail has deep, self-inflicted wounds.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Where they need to step in is on administrations. Run your business badly and then dump the problems on your suppliers and landlords.
    The government should be able to force the use of profit made in earlier years to solve the problems.
    Or the sales of ski lodges!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.