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Talking Shop: 'Give shoppers what they want and they will come'

The new womenswear floor at our store, Golding in Newmarket, opened in spring 2013 and the first year since was phenomenal.

Janet French, womenswear buyer at Goldings, Newmarket and member of Fashion Association of Britain

Janet French is womenswear buyer at Golding, Newmarket, and a member of the Fashion Association of Britain

Although positive and encouraging, it sets the bar high for next season as we achieved an average 65% to 70% full-price sell-through. Our challenge will be finding consistency as well as understanding exactly what direction we take from here. That said, we have a fairly good idea thanks to the valuable feedback we receive from our close customer relationships.

After occupying a smaller cramped department on the ground floor during my previous nine years at Golding, being allocated the newly renovated first floor (which used to house stock rooms) was not only exciting but also very much a gesture of faith in me as the womenswear buyer, so I was delighted. Despite being small, our womenswear department had always been successful and we had longed for a larger selling space, so this is an important time for us. I feel incredibly proud of what we have achieved.

As with all retailers, the buying challenge is to learn what the customer wants and to then provide them with that. Looking ahead, we will be searching for more skirts and dresses. We need to be meeting the requirements of the customer who wants an above-the-knee skirt, as a well as the lady who will only wear it below the knee. In January and February, our customers tend to come in looking for jeans, lighter knitwear in pale colours and early wedding/occasionwear. It’s important that we have something new in stock at that time as history shows if they like what they see then they will buy it there and then.

We also have little price resistance in Newmarket. When a customer walks through the door, they are searching for something of high quality, something special. There is no sense in us carrying basics as our shoppers will happily buy them from Marks & Spencer. What they want from us are high-performing, technical and quality brands. NYDJ jeans are a huge brand for us. While we haven’t stocked it very many years, it’s by far our biggest-selling jean. Having more flexibility in the way we buy a collection and being mindful of how it sells in store is very important to us as independent retailers.


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