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Discounting’s lone riders need reining in

James Leslie

It’s that time of year again when independents are trying to manage their end-of-season reductions, while trying to get 2011 off to a great start with full-price product.

It’s that time of year again when independents are trying to manage their end-of-season reductions, while trying to get 2011 off to a great start with full-price product.

With the most recent rise in VAT, currency fluctuations and the increasing amount of promotional activity in department stores, I believe this spring season will see the biggest disparity of selling prices across the industry we’ve ever seen.

At Trilogy, we’ve always used department stores as a benchmark, as by matching them on price we can then set ourselves apart through service proposition and environment. Maintaining the same prices as these stores is getting increasingly difficult, however. The growing levels of in-season promotional activity will be a further challenge for us - on top of the VAT rise and price inflation - and stands to disadvantage brands in the long term, as fewer indies will be willing or in business to back them.

While I’m not advocating brands dictate prices, I do feel that where promotional reductions only benefit the participating retailer and their customers, rather than all of its stockist base, brands should use their authority to ensure price integrity.

With prices rising in the premium sector, the last thing we want is for the customer to get the same feeling they do on the high street - that buying during Sale periods is the only way to achieve value for money.

One of the cornerstones of the premium sector has been price integrity and consistency across stores. It is what defines luxury and sustains the aspirational nature of the brands and their products. If we are to adopt high street pricing strategies, this will not only affect customers’ perception of value, but do long-term damage to the premium nature of those stores and brands.

James Leslie is co-owner of premium denim indie Trilogy, which has three stores in London

Readers' comments (1)

  • The brands that keep distribution tight and out of the discounters are worth their weight in gold. However, there is too much double standards with some labels who have weak, gutless middle management. They want the indies to sell at the correct price - fair enough, yet sell to the discounter a mile away who has no interest in building up and/or respecting a brands heritage or tradition. When this questionable way of business is challenged, you either get silence or a 'we can't set the prices' routine. It's not about setting prices, it's having labels with the correct people in place to do the job properly. The problem more than ever in this trade is that some brands will not employ people who know what they are talking about as it will show up their own shortcomings.

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