Andrew Scott is director of premium menswear mini-chain Infinities, which has 11 stores in northwest England.
The shopping experience is now driven by the price-savvy, product-hungry consumer. Whether we like it or not, us indies have to embrace this and react to our customers’ demands, otherwise we’re at risk of getting lost in a sea of retailers all battling for market share.
Fortunately, we can set ourselves apart from the competition by making sure all the elements of a premium retail store are in place. The right product for our regional demographic, excellent customer service and immaculate store presentation are high on the list, but none of these are possible without the back-of-house operational staff who have to be just as on-point as our customer-facing retail management.
It is imperative to keep your brand relevant and offer a point of difference that sets you apart from the competition, and the motivation to achieve this is why Infinities has set about relocating three stores, extending our flagship store, regenerating the website and launching a new footwear store this year.
The three relocations (one already completed in Bradford and the other two impending in Chesterfield and Derby) are a testament to us improving what we have, rather than embarking on an ambitious high street roll-out in a tough economic climate.
The extension and renovation of our store in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, includes a Paul Smith shop-in-shop that allows us to give one of our favourite brands the space it deserves in our most successful Paul Smith location. It also gives our other brand partners more room to breathe.
Probably the most exciting development of the year is the inception of Resole, a new standalone concept dedicated to premium sneakers and streetwear. The new shop was inspired by the tremendous growth Infinities has seen in the footwear category over the past couple of years. The first Resole bricks-and-mortar store is now open in Hanley next door to Infinities and a transactional website is also live. We have had a fantastic reaction so far and it is evident that we are instantly appealing to a new consumer.