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Consultancy targets struggling retailers

Two retailers with combined experience of 30 years in the fashion industry have launched a new consultancy service, with the aim of helping independents during the economic downturn.

Sarah Walls and Jill Whitehead have launched Range Consulting, which offers trend information, range planning advice, stock forecasting and profit management with a focus on the indie market.
The two women have worked for Topshop and Laura Ashley between them and believe they have something to offer struggling retailers and those who are just starting out in retail.

The first project for the pair has been the launch of Gatsby – a new menswear independent in Marlow, Buckinghamshire.

“We provided the owners of Gatsby with trend information and helped them with their shopfit and the buy,” said Walls. “We’ve found that retailers need advice with managing profit and keeping control when their business grows from one shop towards becoming a mini chain.”

Whitehead began her retailing career at Blazer Menswear and has since worked in merchandising roles at Laura Ashley and the now-defunct Richards womenswear chain.

Walls, who worked as head of buying for Alexon-owned young fashion business Bay Trading, said: “Retail is tough at the moment. Lots of established names are going under and disappearing from the high street. The skills we have learnt at the bigger multiples can be translated to independents.

“We have a lot to offer a business that is having a tough time, or one that wants to make sure it isn’t struggling when it comes up against strong competition.”

How to run a healthy business
Top tips from Range Consulting:

  • Phase deliveries to ensure newness

  • Buy confidently while managing risk

  • Hold back budget for in-season trends

  • Plan and monitor your intake and sales margin

  • Regularly review brand performances

  • Have brand consistency for product and visuals

  • Are your promotions cash positive?

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