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.