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Brands’ retail empires are another nail in our coffin, say angry indies

Independents are re-evaluating their offers as a growing number of brands expand via standalone stores.

Last week, Dutch young fashion brand Scotch & Soda said it would open stores across key UK cities. Retailers told Drapers that Scotch & Soda’s strategy is part of a trend among some brands to move away from smaller accounts, putting pressure on stockists to compete with brands’ online and bricks-and-mortar stores.

Yvette Davies, owner of contemporary womenswear retailer Thirty Three Boutique in Lymington, Hampshire, described the move by brands as “another nail in the coffin for indie boutiques”. She added: “You can’t compete with that sort of thing and the range they have.”

Denise Potter, owner of contemporary womenswear boutique Darcy B, which has two stores in Suffolk, said there is a lack of trust felt by indies towards certain suppliers: “We’re not being shown much loyalty by some of the brands. It’s tougher and tougher on indies to find labels that are exclusive.”

Matt Horstead, owner of menswear store Dartagnan in Chichester, West Sussex, said he saw a decline in sales of Hugo Boss when the brand opened an outlet store nearby two years ago. Horstead said: “It took a massive dent – almost 40% on what our business was and we’ve still not recovered.”

Some retailers are increasingly feeling pressured to compete with brands online. One womenswear indie owner said she has now altered her strategy for dealing with brands that have developed ecommerce operations. “We’re trying not to stock any brands that are in department stores or have their own websites – they lose focus on the wholesale,” she said.

Nick Benn, owner of young fashion retailer Northridge Clothing in Sheffield, said he had been forced to reduce prices on products in a bid to match the lower prices on brands’ own websites. “They do reductions, which means we have to drop the Sale [prices] a lot more,” he said.

Readers' comments (14)

  • 95% of brands are not strong enough to trade well
    Outside of London as a mono brand format , Scotch and Soda
    Won't work outside London , it's men's line is too Euro,
    We've seen hundreds try and fail , also disagree that indies need brands more than brands need indies , there are so few of us left now I am inundated with brands wanting to supply my business.
    If a brand opens in a factory shop setup/ Macurthur Glenn etc , drop them , your name above the door is the most important , brands come and go.

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  • Indies don't need arrogant brands - period.

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  • Indies need a special and unique brand and product mix. As soon as the brand goes mainstream or starts targeting direct to consumer it's time to move on because in this day and age indies can never compete on price but can excel in style and brand edit.

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  • Retail was a better place years back when Brands had one indie store per city. No-one stood on each others toes, INDIES themselves were all different in there own way and people made money.
    These days BRANDS havn't helped themselves by trying to grow too quickly and over distribute there product into more than 1 store per city, Shop in Shops and Standalones. This in turn has made a lot of indies now look the same, the high streets all look the same as each other which has only created increased competition and too much discounting.
    Only recently I have built a brand up in my store over the last 5 years, spending from £5k upto £45k seasonal orders and now I've been told that another store in the City is to receive a shop in shop on the brand as my store doesn't have the footfall that is required for the shop in shop?!?!
    BRAND LOYALTY = NONE.

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