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Letter to the editor: It breaks my heart to have to discount

Dear Sir, I have just read your article Indies hit out at brands that allow heavy discounting.

It totally breaks my heart to have to discount over one of the busiest weekends of the year. We never did it last year and were down 30% on 2012 figures. So we took the plunge this year and kept out brands/lines that we wanted to protect. And hey presto, up 30% on last year! So no change from 2012.

It is farcical how retail is at the moment; we are constantly having to either price match what USC or House of Fraser and Harvey Nichols are doing and I am sick of it. Is there nothing that can be done by law about Sale periods, as some countries have in Europe? Only on sale for three weeks in January and three weeks in August?

We need to do something and fast, as us indies are a dying breed.

Warmest regards,

David Weeks

Buying director of Xile Clothing, Scotland

Readers' comments (7)

  • The worst is the web by miles they are constantly discounting major Brands. If its not Secret Sales its My Sale to name only 2. FAMILY and Friends, Black Friday etc all so crazy . We are becoming a Nation Of Discounting Retailers no wonder the Tourists love us.
    Makes T.K.MAXXS expensive!

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  • Martin Ailion

    Couldn't agree more. But there is one solution. Look for suppliers that don't supply the discounting stores/websites. There are plenty of good quality suppliers out there with good product that isn't found in those aforementioned outlets. You just have to go find them, work with them and then excite the public with your product rather than with the label.

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  • darren hoggett

    The previous poster is spot on.

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  • There are alot of customers who like branded product, but aren't loyal to a particular brand especially in womenswear. In my area of the country, all three other independents have been on SALE since third week of November, and currently are at 50% off. So its not just the discounts on websites that can affect your trading but local competition too.

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  • Problem is the high street is full of shops selling the same brands, whether footwear or clothing and so everyone is chasing the same pound in the till, I suggest taking a stroll around the likes of Pitti and alike, there are plenty of brands that look amazing but are relatively unheard of on the UK high street, then its down to the Indie to educate the customer on the benefits of those brands...which is what indies are good at...good ones anyway...then the ball is back in your court and you are not competing with the HOF's / Amazon's of this world who will constantly mark down pretty much all product at this time of the year...every year from now on.

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  • Brands must increasingly polarise between those pursuing volume (via discounting large stores) and those (few) with a belief in longer term value, service and some exclusivity.

    As described in these columns yesterday brands wishing to orientate themselves towards the longer term need to remove volume and settlement discounts from price-cutting retailers; these discounts subsidise uncontrollable urges to price cut!

    Independents must continue to make painful choices which will include walking away from those brands that choose the volume route.

    Some benefit can be found from brands with extensive pre-collections. If Indies can ensure sufficient OTB to be able to take in relevant new season product ahead of the competition these exciting new ranges can sit at full price alongside discounted collections.

    Indies need to be better at micro-managing their OTB, editing their ranges and judging the relevance of their brands than the big boys, alongside providing more personalised service. And in the face of online pressures recognise that the ability to survive will be increasingly difficult...

    Happy New Year!

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  • darren hoggett

    We have a three sale from Dec 27 - Jan 15 and that's it. We never discount outside of that period, and even then, it will only be on product which is at the very least a year old. That way, brands have confidence in us not to abuse and retain integrity. That may result is fewer sales, but it's the right way to do business in the longer term as margin is key.

    Darren Hoggett
    J&B Menswear Limited/Norwich

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