Unique brands with the best offer are the ones who will survive, according to retail veteran Touker Suleyman.
Hawes and curtis
Outstanding products and increased innovation are key to succeeding in the retail industry, Touker Suleyman, chairman of Hawes & Curtis, told the audience at the Drapers Fashion Forum this afternoon.
“You need an amazing product, brands with a USP are the ones that are going to survive,” said Suleyman. In a tough retail climate, he insisted that brands that give the customer what they want will be the ones to thrive, and insisted that tapping into what a customer wants is the way to combat the high street discounting trend, which he described as a “vicious cycle”. “People will be prepared to pay full price if they really really want something,” he told the audience.
“With Ghost, we totally revamped the brand – we took the product and the brand and we merged them to give the customer what they want and what they expect from the brand and it’s thriving,” he said. “We barely discount Ghost, but with Hawes & Curtis we lure customers in with discounts.”
Speaking of the tough climate for retail, Suleyman also criticised retailers for failing to innovate with their designs, prioritising profit and margins. “There is no fashion any more – that is a huge challenge,” he said. “We have some of the best designers in the world, but retailers are too scared to let them loose. The bigger high street players are being very safe at the moment. In the light of Brexit, brands need to think outside the box to innovate.”
He also encouraged brands and retailer to be more assertive in the battle to cut costs. “Challenge every invoice,” he told the audience. “Have the confidence to say you want your company to survive. Challenge everyone who supplies you. People are too complacent with their suppliers.”
He was however, optimistic about the future, stressing once again the focus on great product in order to thrive in the current retail climate. “If you can survive in this business,” he said, “you can survive in any business. Retail is tough.”