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Talking Shop: 'Buying strategy must reflect changing tastes'

Bruce Henderson is co-owner of The Man’s Shop in Worthing and member of The Fashion Association of Britain (FAB).

Bruce Henderson

Bruce Henderson

The start of autumn 2014 was challenging, with extremely warm weather into October, so we shall be more cautious buying for 2015.

It may be a case of forward ordering less and stocking up on brands in season. Obviously this will limit our choice, but ultimately it will be safer. Most of our brands carry a good range of in-season stock but this won’t include the seasonal colours and styles which we shall make a point to forward order.

We have customers looking for formal suits for special occasions and there seems to be consistent demand for our made-to-measure suits; in fact, we are considering whether to try made-to-measure shirts.

However, for the past few seasons we have struggled to sell off-the-peg suits. I think it’s down to a cultural shift within workwear. Men will now wear
a shirt to work, with no tie, and more often than not that shirt will embrace some quirky detail. That change has increased demand for some lines we carry, such as Olymp shirts, which are very versatile. They can be buttoned up for work and then unbuttoned for a more relaxed and informal after-hours style. This transitional quality helps us reach a younger customer too, which is one of our objectives at the moment.

Italian knitwear brand Franco Ponti offers an unrivalled stock service, which is invaluable in terms of freeing up our floor space. We’ve decided to buy into Italian coat brand Falabella next season too - it promises great versatility and a healthy price point.

Looking to the younger customer, we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the World Cup range of rugby socks from Leicestershire-based HJ Socks. We have strong links with Worthing RFC and this will provide us with great opportunities there.

This month we are launching a farmers’ market on Goring Road, where our shop is located, to generate more footfall. We approached 18 local traders and the council. The campaign has received huge support and a £5,000 grant from the council.

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