Many months ago, someone shared a phrase with me that has proven to be all too prophetic in today’s doom and gloom: “No one knows who is swimming in the sea without their trunks on until the tide goes out.”
Another wise adage that rings in my ears is “turnover is vanity, profit is sanity”. It suggests that those with a decent cash flow are more likely to weather the storm than those without. No one will go out of business for a lack of trade for a year or two, but those who are running without cash could catch the next wave home.
At Maureen Cookson we are adopting the 1% rule. Improve every overhead by just 1% and the net result on the bottom line will be
markedly better. I am delighted that my store is achieving far more than this.
For my own part, over-buying is a hard habit to break. Squeezed from every side business-wise, with customers demanding discounts, overhead costs rising and crippling euro costs, the final insult would be bad weather this summer. Surely we can’t suffer that too?
So I’ve approached the buying season with caution, but have decided to trade up. There are fewer customers which means we need more pounds and have to hone our point of difference.
It has been fantastic to hear about so many suppliers trying to help customers with extra discount offers and late invoicing to try and keep the money turning over. Sadly, there is the odd supplier who insists on minimum orders over three programmes or you don’t get your stock at all - which seems rather at odds with the rest.
But hey, at least they give us something to talk about over dinner.
Hilary Cookson is the owner of womenswear independent Maureen Cookson in Whalley, Lancashire