A strong heritage and focus on customer service is helping this menswear indie through its third recession
Christopher Scotney, owner of the eponymous designer menswear indie, says the recession is the worst of the three he has witnessed, but that his 38 years of trading will stand him in good stead to ride out the economic downturn.
In fact, like-for-like sales have been up on last year for the past four weeks. “We sold five Giorgio Armani suits in just one day,” Scotney adds. “We’re selling a lot of suits because of the wedding season and because 75% of our customers are Asian, who have more of a tendency to dress up.”
The store, on London Road in Leicester, occupies an imposing 6,000sq ft corner spot across three floors, with cafes, shops and houses for neighbours. “There aren’t many other clothes shops on this street but we’re a destination store,” says Scotney. “80% of the people who walk through our doors buy something.”
The lower ground floor, with its white brick walls and stone floor, houses the store’s casualwear ranges from brands including Ralph Lauren, Hugo Boss, CP Company, Stone Island and Marithé & François Girbaud.
A spiral staircase leads to the ground floor, which houses suits from the likes of Versace, Giorgio Armani and Pal Zileri. “The interior here is totally different from downstairs,” says Scotney. “We’ve kept a lot of the original features, like the wooden floor, as this used to be a piano shop and dance studio.”
As well as menswear, a small section of the ground floor is dedicated to kidswear. Both boys and girls are catered for from the ages of two to 16, with brands including Ralph Lauren, Armani Junior and O’Neill.
Upstairs, the store offers plus-sizes and eveningwear, and also stocks clothes from other seasons. “A lot of our customers work abroad, so if they’re going somewhere cold overseas during our summer, for example, they may need an overcoat,” Scotney explains.
It is details like this that have kept the business going strong, says Scotney, who attributes the store’s success to its high level of service. “We offer on-site alterations and treat our customers exceptionally well. I have great staff and a knack for the business,” he laughs.
Scotney broadened his brand mix by reintroducing Paul Smith in time for autumn 09 after Hugo Boss, one of his bestsellers, recently opened a store in the area.
He will also launch a transactional website in September but is unsure whether to retail suits online. He says: “When customers buy a suit, 99% of the time they need it altered, which we do in the shop.”
6,000sq ft Size of the store
Three Number of floors
38 Number of years the store has been open