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‘Should we diversify or focus on our bread and butter?’

Matt Horstead, owner of menswear indie Dartagnan in Chichester.

This past fortnight has been overshadowed by the sad news that one of the most iconic and impressive independents in the UK has gone into administration. I am of course referring to Coggles in York.

For many years, the retailer had been a benchmark and inspiration to all of us fellow indies. It was one of the first to embrace the internet and had unprecedented success for a very long time - so it seems ironic that this might now have been the cause of its troubles.

In such difficult economic circumstances, this news has to make the rest of us sit up, take notice and, if possible, learn from both its and our own mistakes.

We need to ask ourselves some difficult questions: are we relevant to our market? Are we giving the customers what they want and not what we want? Is diversifying the right way to go or should we focus on our bread and butter? And are we offering the very best level of customer service, the right product and at the right price?

Right now we don’t have all of the answers, but it has to be our responsibility as independents to attempt to refocus from expenditure to sales to see our businesses through this incredibly difficult period.

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