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Editor's Comment: Jones must focus on brand identity and product

Another quarter rent day has passed, bringing with it a slew of retail administrations and company voluntary arrangements as retailers buckle under the strain of rising costs.

The collapse of value footwear retailer Brantano comes as another blow to the industry, highlighting the challenges facing out-of-town players as well as those on the high street. Slightly more positive news comes in the form of its former stablemate, Jones Bootmaker, parts of which were rescued last weekend through a pre-pack administration deal with private equity firm Endless.

What we are seeing again and again with these struggling businesses is a loss of brand identity in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Jones, in particular, seems to have lost focus of its USP, which centred around a strong offering of third-party brands. Its store estate is also in desperate of a refresh. Neither retailer has demonstrated much in the way of innovation over the past few years.

However, we take heart this week in the good news from Moss Bros and Ted Baker, where sales and profits are growing. Unlike Jones, these businesses have a clear sense of who their customer is and why they should be shopping with them. Ted Baker’s product is instantly recognisable and its recent marketing campaigns fit perfectly with its target market. Under chief executive Brian Brick, Moss Bros has continued to invest in its stores and evolve its hire offer to stay ahead of its competitors.

The gulf between those who are getting it right and those who are not seems to be widening. This is something we focus on in our Hit or Miss series each season. Our team of “secret shoppers” test the product mix, merchandising and service in various high street fashion and footwear retailers, to see who comes out on top. Click here to find out how our selection of womenswear retailers fared this season.

What quickly becomes clear is that those with the highest scores have a number of things in common – a great store design and fit, good customer service and well-targeted product. Let’s hope Endless can bring this back to Jones.

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