We’ve bought another shop, in Newmarket in Suffolk, so Anne Furbank now has two stores. You’re probably thinking we’re mad. It’s a recession, the newspapers are telling a never-ending tale of doom, property prices are falling and everyone is tightening the purse strings.
Some may say we’re crazy, but if you don’t grab an opportunity it will be gone forever. Believe me, the responsibility of taking on another business and looking after another team of staff is one I take very seriously.
Buying the business has been a steep learning curve, but one of the most fascinating areas has been the reaction of suppliers. The business we bought had been trading successfully for 30 years. Its closure surprised suppliers, and although it was only weeks before we arrived with an offer, some suppliers had already jumped ship.
Some were up front and honest about their decision to halt supply, but others thought that if they avoided the issue it would just go away.
Only, it doesn’t. It just ends with the customer getting frustrated. It is a simple business lesson – deal with your problems, whatever they are, because they won’t just disappear. Be straightforward – it might not make anyone happy instantly but you will earn respect for having had the guts to stand by your choices.
I have to say most of the suppliers I have dealt with have been unbelievably supportive, doing their utmost to ensure I had enough stock to open the shop, sending cards, flowers and phoning their support. Here’s to many more years trading, here’s to surviving the recession, and here’s to the world of fashion.
Rebecca Oakley is a partner in womenswear retailer Anne Furbank, which has stores in Buckden in Cambridgeshire and Newmarket in Suffolk