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Does loyalty count for nothing these days?

When I buy a new brand, it is always keen to know what else I stock and whether my shop is a risk for it. So it always comes as a surprise when I ask the new brand to fill out our new supplier form – in which I ask it questions to calculate its credibility and risk for me. We then discuss other shops in my region and whether I can stock it.

Not one supplier has ever asked me if I mind that they offload their surplus stock to the Boundary Mill discount outlet that sits on my doorstep.

This season my phone has been hot from other shops in my area. Suddenly we are not competitors but indies that are being sold down the river by the suppliers we trust. Together we must count for a considerable amount of each brand’s turnover.

Brands that bring out several collections each season cannot see that we consider the season as a whole – it’s November and we are still trading at full price as the cold weather hasn’t even arrived yet.

There are so many of my middle market labels now under huge Sale banners in Boundary Mill. If I ring the brands concerned (which I have done) I am told its buying power far outweighs mine; but the collective value of our indie accounts in this region – and the other three regions with Boundary Mill outlets – must count for something, surely?

It is now costing me money each week to refund customers who have bought a piece at half the price elsewhere – and I am only following the RRP. I will be closing several of my accounts next season – and one of those after 30 years. Does loyalty not count for anything now?

I have listed all the brands available at Boundary Mill in Colne that affect my store on the LinkedIn website. Check it out as you plan your buying for next winter.
As if trade wasn’t hard enough.

  • Hilary Cookson is the owner of womenswear independent Maureen Cookson in Whalley, Lancashire

Readers' comments (3)

  • Well done, thank you for this. I've heard rumours that menswear indies have formed a buying co-operative to give them a stronger voice with the brands, if true maybe this could be considered for the womenswear?

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  • "If I ring the brands concerned (which I have done) I am told its buying power far outweighs mine"

    The coimpany that operates Boundary Mill held stock at 31 January 2009 of £42,154. I think one can conclude from that that they act as agents and not as principals. They don't buy the goods they sell so the explanation you have been offered appears disengenuous.

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  • Another point. The department stores and multiples because of their buying power can I understand negotiate guaranteed sell thrus plus help with staffing & merchandising. If the sell thrus aren't met then the cost price is reduced. The supplier foregoes his profits but recovers his costs. The department store/multiple likewise.

    In this scenario, all profit comes from the percentage of garments sold at full price but crucially no one in the supply chain loses on the goods sold at a discount to RRP. They come out evens.

    Indpendents are at a big disadvantage it sppears if my analysis is correct.

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