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Jonathan Hopson

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

How is the UK indie department store market fairing at the moment?
The market has recently seen a number of important changes, as a number of key players have either been bought out by other store groups or have ceased trading. But our customers continue to tell us that the Camp Hopson is an important point of difference in an increasingly homogenous high street, and the results are in the sales.

You have said in the past that competing with the internet is one of your biggest challenges, is that still the case?
The e-commerce share of the retail cake is still relatively small, but it’s continuing to grow. We look at the internet both as a significant opportunity, as well as important competition for us.

Will you be getting a transactional website?
Yes. We’re currently finalising details for a relatively small e-commerce site, which we’re looking to launch later this year.

Who are your main competitors out there?
In addition to the internet, I would say John Lewis in Reading and M&S in Newbury.

What can we expect from you next year?
Next year will be similar to this year, with a relentless focus on providing excellent customer service and innovative product assortment.

Are you expanding at all?
We’re not at moment but a new retail development site in Newbury was last week given the green light and construction work starts on site in September. Consequently, our key emphasis at the moment and for the next year is ensuring disruption to trading is minimised and it will be very much a case of business as usual.

How is trade at the moment?
We’re delighted to be showing an increase on last year’s sales- with handbags, jewellery, cosmetics and menswear showing strong double digit sales increases on the previous year. We’re continuing to draw additional footfall due to the new store, [which was recently rebuilt on the site of the old one] along with offering a strong product assortment.

Which brands are doing well?
On our menswear side brands including Gant and Jaeger Man are doing well. In the womenswear category brands including Wallis, Windsmoor, Jaeger, Hobbs and Triumph Lingerie are all performing strongly.

Will you be introducing any new brands?
We have recently introduced a new Basler fashion concession, and we are also re-introducing the Barbour brand. For autumn we are also introducing Sticky Fingers.

How confident do you feel about business next year?
Despite the challenging economic conditions, we’re relatively upbeat about next year, on the basis that if you plan for a recession that is what you’ll generally get.

What promotional events have you done lately?
We’re continuing to concentrate on driving footfall through our monthly selection of Best Buys, which in August included Abbacino Handbags with 30% off, and Linen skirts and trousers at half price. This is coupled with retail promotions and events including mini-fashions shows and new product launches.

How is the UK indie department store market fairing at the moment?
It’s recently seen a number of important changes, as a number of key players have either been bought out by other store groups or ceased trading. But our customers continue to tell us that the Camp Hopson is an important point of difference in an increasingly homogenous high street, and the results are in the sales.

Jonathan Hopson is chief executive of department store independent Camp Hopson in Newbury, Berkshire.

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