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Chatterton’s sets its sights on expansion

Premium womenswear indie Chatterton’s is opening its fifth store next month and is close to signing a site for a sixth following a 14% uplift in sales for the year to date.

The new 1,000 sq ft store will be on Cambridge’s Bridge Street, a site that owner Rebecca Cargill chose following demand from customers to “bridge the gap” geographically between the retailer’s two Suffolk stores and its one in Buckinghamshire. It also has a store in Barnes, southwest London.

“A lot of our customers travel from Cambridge and have long been asking for a store there. All our openings have been customer driven,” said Cargill.

A sixth site is due to be signed next month ahead of a January opening. Cargill would not reveal the location but said it was far away from her existing stores.

Cargill has also taken on three new staff to facilitate a September relaunch of the store’s transactional website on a new platform. “We’ve dipped our toe in the water and sell a bit online but we didn’t have enough stock and I realised we’ll need to treat it as store in its own right,” she said.

“We sell different stock online so we don’t take sales away from the stores.”

Chatterton’s will retain the same brand mix for its fifth store, which includes labels such as Diane von Furstenberg, Rützou and Velvet. Its stores currently stock 59 brands, with three or four more added each year. Halston, Duffy and Vanessa Bruno will be new for autumn 10.

Cargill opened her first store in 1992 in Old Amersham, Buckinghamshire, and has gradually expanded, opening two stores in Suffolk, in Southwold and Woodbridge.

“I’ve been a slow mover but I grew steadily. I’m debt-free and that’s why I’m still here,” she said. “The last couple of years have been tough but we got more controlled in our buying - if collections don’t work or the brands get too greedy [in terms of wholesale prices] we drop them.”

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