91-93 Low Petergate, York
Who you need to know
Co-owners Mark Bage (pictured) and Sarah Marwood
Brands include APC, By Malene Birger, Cheap Monday, Diesel, H by Hudson, Maison Scotch, Nudie, See By Chloe, YMC
It’s no surprise Sarah Coggles holds the title of the country’s most inspiring indie. The premium retailer has a first-class reputation in the fashion industry, having scooped an unbelievable number of trophies in the past at the Drapers Fashion Awards for operating both a slick, bricks-and-mortar indie and a thriving website that draws in fans from around the globe.
Co-owner Mark Bage puts the indie’s success down to the fact the business never sits on its laurels. “We always try to break new ground and we travel around the world to find good, contemporary womenswear and menswear,” he says.
Sarah Coggles certainly can’t be accused of anything short of hard graft.
In the past year, it opened a London office and hosted its first press day on the back of a multimillion-pound deal from Pentland Group subsidiary Manchester Square Enterprises.
The investment led to the return of Asos premium menswear buyer Adam Jagger, who joined as buying director in January 2011. Jagger was previously head of retail at the super-indie until he left in 2008.
Sarah Coggles, which is also run by Bage’s sister Sarah Marwood, also drafted in two new heavyweight directors – Billie-Jean de Voil from Diesel and Anna Bielby from accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers – to help aid its expansion.
The indie is renowned for enticing customers with its progressive buying strategy – Bage says that half of the store’s annual buys are new to Sarah Coggles. The strategy has paid off. Even against a tough economic background, the business has achieved a rise in sales of between 55% and 60% across every category in the past year. Bage enthuses that this increase is down to “believing in what we’re doing”.
It’s an opinion that filters down to its brands, which are also huge fans of the store. “Sarah Coggles has always had a reputation for promoting quality and establishing a true difference with its offering in the market,” says Jonny Hewlett, managing director of denim brand Diesel. “While taking this unconventional approach, it also excels in bringing its vision to life.”
Ashley Cummings, UK agent for young fashion brand Fly London, also waxes lyrical about the indie. “It’s known for its eclectic mix of brands,” he says. “Plus, Sarah Coggles is fantastic online and it’s not just about clothing; they’ve got furniture and books on there too.”
It’s true that Coggles.com has made an impact on its customers. With a constantly updated blog and interesting editorial pieces, Bage knows the importance of a stellar website.
The site also sells unique pieces such as rugs illustrated with a 50p stamp from accessories and homewares etailer Rockett St George, a funky collection of clocks and even offers customers the chance to buy a vintage-style caravan (with a price tag of £6,995 for those interested).
Bage is planning the biggest-ever revamp of the York store this year, which he describes as “amazingly contemporary”, and a potential new opening, although he won’t be pressed as to where the next successful chapter will begin.