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03 Matches

London stores including Wimbledon, Richmond, Notting Hill and Mayfair

Who you need to know

Founder Tom Chapman (left)

Brands include Alexander McQueen, Diane von Furstenberg, Markus Lupfer, Matthew Williamson, Nobis, See by Chloé, Suno, Yves Saint Laurent

If ever there was a business that shows just how far independent retailers can go, it’s premium mini-chain Matches. From one unassuming Wimbledon Village shop for affluent southwest London locals back in 1987, to a 10-store chain of beautifully-edited mini department stores in some of London’s most exclusive enclaves today, Matches has gone from strength to strength during its 24 years. Matches commercial director Frances Card puts its success down to its ability to “develop globally yet keep a neighbourhood feel”.

That global expansion has been largely down to the Matches.com website, which has an extensive product range, backed up by buying skills that are nigh-on impossible for its competitors to emulate.

Exclusive designer collaborations, such as one-off Erdem prints and Heidi Klein swimwear for autumn 10, along with Matches’ own label, Freda, keep the brand mix fresh and unique and it is this expansive yet distinctive offering that earned Matches a place on the shortlist for the Outstanding Brand Mix prize at 2010’s WGSN Global Fashion Awards.

A private shopping service both in store and online, bespoke gifts, late-night shopping hours, home visits

and personalised events cater to a demanding clientele in a way the high street cannot compete with.

“Inspiring independents should be exciting and vibrant environments that offer highly desirable core brands mixed with injections of new trends and designers across all channels,” explains Card, summing up Matches to a tee.

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