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Helen Hook

Drapers probe leading Independents to get their View From The Shop floor.

How is trade at the moment?
As long as you don’t look at last year, it’s fine. We’re looking at the bottom line, we’re spending less and buying less, but comparatively sales are down.

Are you going to Micam?
Not this year, I’ve attended UK-based shows such as Pure and Moda and will be going to the Kensington Shoe Event in London in a couple of weeks.

What are you looking to get out of the show season?
I’m looking for anything new and different that’s going to entice people. I’m not doing basics, they’re too boring. I’m looking to take risks, now is the time. People should be getting out and about, going to shows, looking for that new thing. With the current climate, you have to have something new and exciting to stay ahead of the game.

Which brands are selling well in your store at the moment?
We mainly stock own brand, and we’ve almost sold out of high heels and lace-up brogues. Court shoes with a difference – unusual heels and a quirky design – have also been selling well. The Cefalu brand has also done well for us.

How is the independent footwear market in general?
In general, it’s struggling. If you’re mainstream, relying on volume, and tied in with landlords, it’s very tough. We own our own freehold, so we’re fortunate.

Helen Hook, Independent Footwear Retailers Association president and owner of Geoffrey Bailey shoes in Wantage, Oxfordshire.

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