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Regulars brighten up sales at premium indies

Sales at premium independents are being buoyed by a hunger for exclusive product and repeat trade, despite the recession. Almost half of those independents polled by Drapers reported better trading last week against the year before.

And a fortnight of sunny weather has lifted the spirits of customers who are keen to update their wardrobes with spring looks.

Retailers said shoppers in the premium sector were seeking out exclusive product, and that regular customers were still spending with their preferred independents.

At premium menswear indies, casual product rather than formal shirting and tailoring has been selling well, with tops, lightweight knits and spring jackets faring better than trousers, although denim sales were slightly up.

Duncan McKenzie, director of Aphrodite in Sunderland, said: “We have a lot of returning customers and we always get a couple of new ones too. A lot of customers are quite positive. We are trading well because we did a strong buy of the right collections. The popular style is still preppy casual. We stock brands such as Armani Jeans, Boss Orange, Lyle & Scott and Original Penguin.”

Philip Browne owner of Philip Browne in Norwich, which sells brands including Vivienne Westwood and Replay, said: “When the economic climate changes, it is the high street that is affected.”

On the women’s front, dresses, lightweight tops and spring tops have sold well. Skirts have not sold as well as anticipated, with classic shapes such as pencil skirts outstripping sales of more trend-led shapes such as tulip and bubble skirts.

Luella Bitelli, buyer for Blossom in Fulham, west London, which sells Velvet and Clements Ribeiro, said: “The weather is encouraging people to renew their wardrobes.”

Carol Grant, owner of Carol Grant in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, added: “Our customers own houses and don’t rely on credit, so they are still spending.”

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