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16 The stock house ***New***

As tough economic conditions continued into 2010, the need for short order, urgent stock swaps and quick repeat orders played straight into the hands of the stock houses, as indies looked to give their customers fresh, trend-led product in an attempt to convince them to part with their cash.

While no indie would give up their core big-name forward-order collections, most have been forced to become more flexible to buy quick-react creep-up trends such as the maxi dress this summer. Stock houses have helped retailers reduce risk.

Take Whispering Smith - previously known as Rajan Imports - as an example. It has been a stable fixture in Cottonopolis (the nickname given to Manchester’s garment quarter) since the 1960s and has continued to grow. The company recently launched a short-order brand called Brave Soul to service indies looking for stock. It is the perfect dynamic - the stock house gets an early read of best-sellers from indies who get the first bite of the trend cherry before the importers drops the look into high-volume orders from its high street customers. A great business model.

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