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Damian Clarke, Managing director of indie department store Stringers in Lytham, Lancashire

Brands include Eastex, Esprit, Fullcircle, French Connection, Marella, Phase Eight, Viyella

How is trade at the moment?
It’s not too bad. We’ve achieved single-digit year-to-date sales growth overall, led by fashion and accessories.

Which categories are doing best?
The great news is that all categories are on the up and trading well. Contemporary womenswear is performing well, particularly more formal ranges for the 30-plus market, such as those from Hobbs, Phase Eight and Fenn Wright Manson.

Have you made any recent changes in store?
We’ve moved Eastex and Dash off the main fashion floor into a connected, standalone area on the ground floor, to give customers easier access, and we’ve introduced Marella, Crew Clothing, Laura Ashley, Joules and Kaliko.

What’s the biggest challenge you face over the coming year?
We’ll have to manage rising prices, including the forthcoming VAT rise, while maintaining margins and continuing to drive footfall.

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