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Foundation moves on up with premium floor

Premium womenswear independent Foundation is halfway through an expansion of its Cheltenham store that will see the shop double in size, from 550 sq ft to 1,100 sq ft, by mid-November.

Foundation, which currently trades from the ground floor of its Grade Two-listed Regency building on Montpellier Walk, is expanding upwards and converting the first floor of the site for retail use.

Co-owner James Wiseman said: “Effectively, we were asked to do nothing by English Heritage. We had to promise that we weren’t going to change the fabric of the building. There was a reluctance to see the building changing from residential to retail on the part of the planners.”

Wiseman said the £20,000 project would enable the store to devote the new floor to contemporary British fashion brands such as Paul Smith Red Label and Vivienne Westwood Anglomania, as well as bags by Ally Capellino and J&M Davidson.

“The idea is that it gives us a dedicated space to show our premium ranges,” he said, adding that fluctuations in the value of sterling meant that buying British brands made more sense in the current climate as collections priced in euros had become increasingly expensive.

Foundation, which also operates a shop in nearby Stow-on-the-Wold, has managed to avoid the worst of the downturn so far, according to Wiseman, although he admitted to “continuing to feel nervous” about levels of pre-Christmas trade.

In the six months to October 1, like-for-like sales across the two locations were 5% ahead. Wiseman said sales had slowed during September. “The warm weather hasn’t helped,” he said. “But I can’t blame the extension work in Cheltenham for the [drop in trade] during September. We have lost a little bit of margin because of the strength of the euro.”

Wiseman will throw an opening party to celebrate the unveiling of the new floor in the Cheltenham store, with some of the designers stocked in the store expected to attend.

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