Gemma Lessinger is buyer at Ann’s Cottage Surf Shops, which has nine stores in Cornwall.
Ann’s Cottage has always been proud to offer products for the whole family - whether they are locals or families down in Cornwall on holiday.
Kidswear has therefore been a key component for us and until recently most of the long- established surf brands we stock produced a kidswear range, all of which have continually sold well.
Over the past few seasons however, we have found the choice from those core brands has been gradually declining, perhaps due to the growing competition from value retailers and supermarkets. Retail price is always key with this category, but with the cost of producing a child’s garment not being too dissimilar to an adult’s piece, many companies are facing a very low margin, leaving it an obvious area to cut back on.
But we have found that customers are willing to spend that little bit extra on kidswear, if they can see added value in quality or an ethos behind the brand that they feel passionate about.
This change in what our core brands are offering has left us with a growing need to start looking at new brands to offer our youngest customers.
This has been an exciting but daunting prospect as our company identity has to be at the forefront of brand selection. Buying into kidswear-specific brands is a whole new angle for the company, one which has to fit our distinctive surf lifestyle stores.
One brand which immediately captured our attention was Frugi, and we needed to look no further than our own doorstep. This is a Cornish brand that is passionate about ethical trading and the sustainability of its products, only using organic materials, offering ranges for babies, kids and mothers.
Its eye-catching prints and appliqué designs fit our customer perfectly. They are a premium price compared with our other brands but the construction, fabrics and story behind Frugi gave us high hopes that it would be a hit with our customers.
Sales are already looking strong for the brand, so we are optimistic that this will help to expand an area of our business that has huge potential.