Premium indies have lambasted department store Liberty after it launched a 20%-off promotion with women’s glossy Grazia.
Grazia readers were offered a 20% discount on in-season product from designers including McQ by Alexander McQueen, J Brand and Vivienne Westwood Anglomania both online and in store until today.
The move angered indies, which generally do not discount outside of the traditional Sale periods.
Designer independent Sarah Coggles in York and designer mini-chain Flannels were both berated in October 2009 for launching similar promotions with Grazia.
Barrie Rapaport, owner of premium womenswear indie Bernard of Esher in Surrey, said this kind of promotion could damage sales for indies that will be selling the same stock at full price. “It’s very disturbing. This is the second time Liberty has offered 20% off in the last month. I’m sure it will have affected everyone’s sales,” he said.
Rhona Blades, co-owner of five-store Northeast indie Jules B, said:”I don’t know what’s happening to the industry. I thought it was despicable when Flannels and Coggles did it last year. Indies are suffering enough in this climate. You can understand when it’s the tail-end of the season, but not at the beginning.”
Paula Jauncey, owner of premium womenswear indie Emporio Clothing in Worcester, said the promotion devalued designer products. “The fact it is Liberty is disturbing as we’ve got lots [of brands] that they’ve got,” she said.
“If customers were looking for a particular product then they would have got it from Liberty instead of an indie.”
She added: “It creates this ‘perma-Sale’ kind of environment where no one ever wants to pay full price.”