Neil Welker is managing director and owner of Elliotts of Lymington, Hampshire, and a member of The IMC Buying Group.
The Sale period is a funny time of year. We had a strong start at the end of June, even though we had little stock left after a successful spring/summer season. I find the increased footfall during the Sale provides an opportunity to sell the new deliveries of full-price merchandise, which, as an unintended consequence, is very welcome.
Over the years, our menswear floor has evolved and embraced more of the premium sector as we have veered away from the mainstream and traditional lines. But this has also forced us to pay more attention to those few classic bread-and-butter brands we do carry.
Those classic brands we stock exclusively through The IMC Buying Group play an even more important role than they once did in bridging the collections and balancing the shop floor’s product mix.
Danish brand Sunwill has been really successful for us this season, in particular a great-fitting, water-repellent and easy-care trouser, as well as its shorts. We’ve also done very well with Oscar of Sweden shirts, which retail for just over £100. The shirts offer a point of difference with their contrasting details and trims.
That both these brands are exclusive to IMC members is of great value to us as independents.
Elliotts has always prided itself on providing our customers with something different and exclusive that they will not find elsewhere, giving them a reason to choose us above another store.
Immersed in our own businesses for much of the time, it’s great to pick up the phone and get a second opinion from a fellow retailer, and the IMC has given me a great circle of friends and contacts upon whom I can call.
I’m looking forward to concluding the buying season at the IMC show at Whittlebury Hall in Northamptonshire in August. I won’t be looking for anything radically new but will be seeking to build on the existing brands we carry. Of course, if a fellow member gives me a tip-off on a great new brand I will take a look. In fashion as in life, it is important to have an open mind and recommendations from fellow retailers can prove to be invaluable.