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Paul Howard beats retail gloom with rising sales

Cheshire menswear indie Paul Howard bucked the retail downturn by notching up a like-for-like sales rise of 15% in 2007.

Director Michael Whatmough said sales at the store, on Market Street in Marple, had not slowed in the first three weeks of 2008 and that 2007’s good performance was on top of similar sales increases in 2006.

He added that the 30-year-old business recorded a strong profit margin despite the increased competition from high street multiples. He attributed the success to a 70% level of repeat business, good service and a well-balanced offer.

Paul Howard sells a mixture of lifestyle brands including Gant, Blue Willi’s and Le Shark alongside labels such as Bruno Saint Hilare. It also offers a made-to-measure tailoring service with the choice of more than 1,000 different fabrics.

Michael Whatmough said: “There is a John Lewis in nearby Cheadle and we are 20 minutes by train from Manchester city centre, but because we are a family business we offer a personal service, which is important to our customers.”

Owner Paul Whatmough added: “There may be a sales bloodbath on the high street, but our business is booming. We are confident 2008 will be our most successful year yet. Menswear customers in particular are starting to realise that the ultra-cheap clothing imports in some of the big-name stores and out-of-town malls are usually of poorer quality.”

The retailer also launched a transactional website four months ago, which has performed strongly.

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