Your browser is no longer supported. For the best experience of this website, please upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Indies must go back to basics

Two episodes of Mary Queen of Shops in and I have already started shouting at the telly – sometimes at the shop owners and sometimes at Mary Portas.
At the moment, it’s mainly at the shop owners – about an 80/20 split – but what the first two episodes have rammed home is the potential for complacency among independent boutiques.

I know the Mary Queen of Shops production team are looking at the most extreme examples of struggling businesses because they make the best TV, but it never hurts to revisit how your business stacks up against some basic retail fundamentals.

The strongest theme emerging from the series so far is a failure by the shopkeepers to empathise with, and understand who, their customer is and what they want. This was brought home to me again this week when I was on a panel of judges assessing London College of Fashion’s fashion marketing students for the Oasis Dissertation Prize.

One of the students, Anna Harrison, wrote her dissertation on the prospects for womenswear independents. She asked women what they felt about the boutiques in their town.

Staff attitudes was the second highest reason why the women surveyed felt uncomfortable shopping at independents. The first was a perception of the boutiques being too expensive.

As a champion of the independent sector, I was quite defensive about this, but it has a ring of truth. I have many friends who spend more than me on clothes, but are less willing to enter boutiques for this very same reason. So maybe it’s time for indies to re-examine some
of those fundamentals.

Lorna Hall is executive editor of Drapers

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.