Footwear independent The Brogue Trader will cut the ribbon on a new store in Manchester later this month – its tenth opening since it was established in November 2013.
The Brogue Trader has a turnover of £4m and stocks high-end brands such as Loake, Oliver Sweeney, Herring and Joseph Cheaney & Sons. Its latest store, on King Street in Manchester, will open on 21 September, two months ahead of schedule in its plan to open 10 stores in five years.
The retailer’s first store (pictured) opened in Cardiff in 2013, and was followed by branches in Chester, Bath, Leeds, Oxford, Edinburgh, Canterbury, Glasgow and Exeter. Its team has expanded to 58 people.
Chris Macnamara, founder and managing director, told Drapers its success could be attributed in large part to its focus on customer experience. In the last financial year, it processed just four refunds out of 30,000 transactions.
“I’ve only seen growth,” said Macnamara. “There’s no doubt this year has been challenging [because of the very hot weather], but we’ve been fine. None of the stores have lost money.”
The stores emulate private members’ clubs. They have Chesterfield furniture and oak display cabinets for the shoes, while sales attendants are dressed in waistcoats, braces and bow ties, and offer a personalised fitting service.
Macnamara explained that the decision to locate many of its stores in affluent market towns with high tourist numbers has spurred its growth. But he admitted that it had been a challenge to find the right location within those towns, and he has typically chosen cheaper off-prime sites and used creative marketing tactics – such as signs on bicycles positioned around the town centres – to direct passing trade. He added that he expects demand to increase.
“I’m a working class boy from a council house [who] left school at 14 without qualifications,” he said. ”My biggest aim was to make a legacy for my children. And I’ve done that, I think.”