Ashley Morris is co-owner of Linzi Shoes, which has one store at Westfield Stratford and four in Essex, and a member of the Fashion Association of Britain.
Getting our name known is a big challenge. Although we are well placed in centres such as Lakeside in Thurrock and Westfield Stratford, it’s a constant challenge to generate the same clout as the multiples.
The shops are run very well, but it remains a struggle to become more widely known in the commercial playing field, despite the fact that trade is up across our branches. We are used to hearing that ‘green shoots are growing’ and in our case - at long last - we can testify that it’s true.
This has been a busy year for us. It’s our 25th anniversary, and we also narrowly missed out on winning Drapers’ Independent Footwear Retailer of the Year Award this May. While we were obviously disappointed not to win, we were delighted to be recognised and it has fuelled our ambitions.
This autumn we will be introducing a leather range. We decided it was something we should do, while sticking to our affordable price points.
A generation of young fashion followers has grown up with synthetic ‘leather’ shoes, and they have no idea what real leather feels like. The collection should
take off and justify our hope to increase our retail footprint later in the year. The next location we will be looking at is Bluewater, providing we can secure a realistic deal there.
We decided to hold a press preview day for the first time this autumn. It took a lot of hard work and dedication but as the fashion-hungry bloggers poured in and snapped the products with their SLRs the scene resembled excited bees around a honeypot.
We are mindful that Instagram is important for us. Next week we have a new graphic designer arriving to push our Instagram activity, so we are moving in the right direction as far as targeting our market is concerned. As an independent retailer competing with the large high street names, Linzi has a lot to offer and, importantly, we are very clear about our positioning: we offer fast fashion of a high quality and we merchandise it in a calm, chaos-free shopping environment.