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Reaping the rewards of paying on time

Well, what an interesting few days I’ve had. I arrived at Pure London on August 2 and spent three days in town. I then returned to work with a headache brought on by late nights networking at the Charlotte Street Hotel (I can’t afford to stay there, but I can afford to drink there at other people’s expense) and the more pressing headache of where to spend my buying budget.

I am delighted to report that I have, on the whole, found what I’ve been looking for. There is colour, there is print, and there is an abundance of stretch jersey cotton on skirts, tops and dresses. There are wraps galore, there are fabulous accessories and there is a strong message from suppliers of support, better pricing, fixed euro exchange rates and extended discount periods.

We pay all our bills within seven days. It is cheaper to pay with borrowed money so as to take advantage of the 4% to 5% discounts offered for quick payment. Our credit rating also benefits and the deliveries seem to be more prompt and efficient when you are a quick payer.

When people discuss the welfare of a business, they seem to focus at length on its ability to pay suppliers on time. How hard it must be for the suppliers to manufacture and then wait for the cash to come in.

It’s little wonder there is so much carnage within the industry, with brands switching agents (often without the current agent’s knowledge) and brands disappearing and reappearing. It amuses me that as a retailer we have to sign and promise to pay and take the goods; how do I know a supplier is going to deliver to me?

The old adage that profit is sanity must now change to turnover is sanity and profit is vanity. Roll on the day it switches back.

Hilary Cookson is the owner of womenswear independent Maureen Cookson in Whalley, Lancashire

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