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Caroline Robinson

Caroline Robinson owner of womenswear indie Caroline’s Boutique, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.

Brands Include Kiilerich, Armand Basi, Kurt Muller and Caroline Charles

How is trade at the moment?

It’s tough right now. We found it difficult to clear our summer Sale when so many other stores were still offering summer discounts so late this year. We feel we have to maintain the Sale for a while longer to stay in competition and so as not to lose our customers.

Which brands and categories are selling best?

It is hard to say definitively because we only opened in May this year. We have a good selection of brands in occasionwear and they are probably selling best, but young fashion and bridalwear also do well. Dresses have been consistently popular since we launched. In the height of summer it was colourful prints that customers were after; now it seems block colour dresses are going best.

Will you be putting prices up for spring 2010?

Yes, we have no choice but to, as our suppliers are all putting up their prices. As the new spring 10 stock comes in we will be starting afresh with some new styles and it will be easier to raise prices.

Did you visit any trade shows this year?

We went to London Fashion Week. I was very excited by the spring collection from Caroline Charles, which is one of our main suppliers. Unfortunately, we didn’t go to any other shows earlier I the year because we are a relatively new store and needed to spend all our time and money focusing on establishing ourselves. However, it is something we are planning to look into in the next few weeks.

How confident do you feel about business this year?

I feel pretty confident. I think at this time you must remain positive, it is the best option. We are now starting to hear news that the downtown could be ending anyway.

Did you visit any trade shows this year?

We went to London Fashion Week. I was very excited by the spring collection from Caroline Charles, which is one of our main suppliers. Unfortunately, we didn’t go to any other shows earlier I the year because we are a relatively new store and needed to spend all our time and money focusing on establishing ourselves. However, it is something we are planning to look into in the next few weeks.

How do you think womenswear will perform for Autumn 09?

I believe it will be a lot better than the past couple of seasons. We are now seeing much more design variety from the brands. I think we really need to shake off the credit crunch and start splashing out on outfits once again and the autumn 09 collections will encourage consumers to do that.

How do you think independents are doing against the highstreet?

The independents are struggling, just as the highstreet is. Although independents have it harder as most only have the one store, maybe two if they are well established. When a high street store struggles, at least the retailer can draw on its well-performing stores to keep the struggling ones going.

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