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What we’ve learnt in five years of ups and downs

Ian Hopkins, Director of music-inspired fashion retailer Pulp, which has six UK stores.

As I sit back with my business partner Stewart Ebbins and reflect on the journey to the recently announced investment deal into our business, Pulp, from Sports Direct, one thing comes to mind: not only did we not do it all ourselves but we are very grateful to both staff and suppliers who took a risk on us. We thank them both.

But after nearly five years of ups and downs - of which there have been many - we have learnt several things.

The first is that retailers should get their ecommerce sorted from day one. We didn’t, and it cost us dearly; with a good site we have seen sales rise massively by hundreds of per cent a year. Another crucial step is to build a direct relationship with your customer. We’ve done this via social media and a loyalty card system. This allows us to communicate very cheaply with our customers and drive sales virtually instantly, online and in store. It doesn’t cost as much as you think.

Finally, I would advise that retailers keep close to their suppliers. Relationships with suppliers can sometimes be difficult, but they have helped us out of some tough situations and are key for growth.

We have in no way done it all, but with Sports Direct on board it has only just started - and so much more is to come.

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