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Preeta Cooley

Drapers probe leading Independents to get their View From The Shop floor.

Did you go to London Fashion Week?
Yes. I went to the exhibition, I’ve been going to them for several years, and I was quite disappointed. I’ve seen them grow the accessories division, but the ready to wear division is disappearing. I usually come across brands I want to see, or brands that I don’t know, and I save some of my budget back specifically. But I didn’t buy into any new brands.

I was talking to some people at the exhibition and they said the stands were far too expensive, and more and more people are moving away from The Natural History Museum, which means buyers can’t get round them all. If London Fashion Week reduced the prices, so everybody could be centralised, it would be easier for sellers and easier for buyers.

How is trade at the moment?
Business is ok, we started selling our autumn stock in August and it’s going well. Sales are about flat- there is no consistency we’re either manically busy or very quiet.

Are you buying any new brands for next season?
For SS09, I’m bringing in an British label called Karma, they’ve done some beautiful pieces. I’ve bought into holidaywear and maxi dresses. It has good price points, lovely designs and fabrics, and it didn’t have ridiculous minimums. I’ll also be buying Pringle, Splendid T-Shirts and Tommy Hillfiger.

What are the best selling trends in womenswear for autumn?
Purple, lots of people are buying into the colour, it’s been marketed as the colour of the season. We’re also selling a lot of pencil skirts- the ladylike, tailored look is very popular, along with wide trousers and knitwear.

Which brands are selling well?
Paul Smith, Josef and Nicole Farhi.

How is the independent womeswear market overall?
Independents should be in a pretty strong position. Our USP is based on our relationship with customers, and the service we offer. As long as you look after your customers and have the right product, and they’ve got the money to spend you should be ok.

How confident do you feel about business next year?
I am confident but cautious. I will think hard about my buying, to ensure versatility in the offer. People will not be frivolous, but they will still be spending.

What can we expect from you next year?
I will be launching shoes for SS09, I want to offer the full outfit- I currently sell womenswear and accessories. I am also investigating doing a new shopfit, the shop has been the same for 5 years, but it will depend on how the season goes.

Are your budgets up or down for next year?
With the addition of shoes, they will be going up.

Do you have a transactional website?
No, but we are looking to get one eventually. We do some mail order to customers at the moment.

Preeta Cooley is owner of premium womenswear independent Curve in Wendover, Buckinghamshire.

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