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Massenet provides this year’s model

When I made my New Year’s resolutions I promised the usual professional stuff and vowed to try to look more like’s Natalie Massenet and a bit less like Mollie Sugden in Are You Being Served?

But in these restrained times the resolutions might need to be a bit more than skin deep. Turnover for The Hambledon in 2008 was pretty good, not thrilling but not disappointing (and that from me is high praise; I truly see the glass as half empty).

But I think the testing time is to come. Trading in 2009 is almost certainly going to be much harder than last year, andidentifying areas of potential growth within the business is pretty tricky.

We’re having a bit of a euro nightmare. Extensive sourcing from European suppliers has historically been a strength for the shop, giving it a clear point of difference from many independent retailers.

But the exchange rate is a real challenge this season. We shall be looking closer to home for some new suppliers, hoping to create a lovely virtuous commercial circle.

Menswear had some investment last year and is now looking to take up some of the credit-crunch slack. The website, into which we put time, money and thought in the autumn, is not yet paying dividends.

Given the positive stories of growth in web sales we are definitely looking at as a way of generating some new turnover.
I think I’d rather stick pins in my eyes than sell womenswear online, but who knows?

Once I’ve achieved the personal grooming standards of Natalie Massenet, then maybe I’ll want to take a closer look at her business model.

Victoria Suffield is the owner of lifestyle retailer The Hambledon in Winchester, Hampshire.

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