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Sam Cuthbert

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

How is trade at the moment?
We’re finding it very good. The weather’s turned nice, and customers are going on holiday, which has helped sales. People want trousers, tops and cardigans- soft knitwear is selling well.

Has consumer spending been squeezed?
We’ve had a successful season so far- the wedding season is key for us- but we’ve had some lovely dresses for Ascot as well. People are very knowledgeable. They want something new but are looking at price- more so this year than any other.

How confident do you feel about business this summer?
I feel very enthusiastic. Summer’s our good time as we do lots of weddings. There’s been lots of bad press and doom and gloom, and people are fed up, as they are still coming in to shop.

Who are your main competitors?
We are not far from London, but we offer something different from the high street. I don’t think a run of the mill store is a threat.

Which brands are selling well in your store at the moment?
We do well with Linear Rafaelli, Silvia Heiss and Sonia Maron.

Will you be buying into any new brands next season?
I’d like to introduce something new, fresh and exciting into the store. I am looking at a few brands but haven’t decided yet. I’ll get my inspiration from trade shows.

Which trade shows will you go to?
I go to Pret-a-porter and CPD, Dusseldorf.

Who is your core customer?
The forever forties, we cater for the young mature lady ranging from 35 to 75. Women who don’t want to look like their daughters, but don’t want to look like their Mums.

How do you compete with the high street?
Service is number one. We do promotions and email customers, inviting them to in-house fashion shows. We also offer advice on how to create looks.

Which trends will be key for autumn 08?
Colour will be key, lovely berry colours for autumn. Our staff have all been trained on what’s coming in. We also have fabulous suede boots and handbags. Dresses with sleeves will also be big.

Do you have transactional website?
No, I keep a website with up-to-date information, but it’s not transactional as our customer service is just to key to our business to launch one.

What can we expect from you next year?
I plan to run a tight ship.

Are you expanding at all?
I’ve got no plans to expand. We are never going to be an empire, just a small, successful independent.

Do you advertise?
Yes, in local glossy magazines, local papers and wedding magazines, but I plan to cut down a bit this year.

Sam Cuthbert is owner of womenswear independent Chanticleer in Herfordshire.

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