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New initiatives pay off at The Dressing Room

A raft of recession-beating initiatives have helped womenswear boutique The Dressing Room achieve record annual sales figures.

Over the past 12 months, the St Albans-based independent, which has been shortlisted for the Drapers Womenswear Retailer of the Year Award, has set up a direct-to-home shopping arm, introduced a customer loyalty scheme and established a VIP shopping evening.

Like-for-like sales for the year to October 31 rose 15%. Like-for-likes were up 27% over the five months to June 30 and 11.5% from July 1 to October 31.

The figures mean the retailer, which sells premium brands including Current/Elliott and American Vintage, has bucked the downturn felt by many of its competitors.

Owner of The Dressing Room Deryane Tadd said: “We’ve just had our most successful season yet with spring 09 and for autumn we are trading very well, up on a strong autumn last year. I put the increase down to growing customer loyalty. We’ve increased footfall by 17% year on year and also increased customer spend.”

The store launched home-shopping initiative The Dressing Room to You earlier this year, whereby staff drive to cities in the UK to host home-shopping evenings.

“We’ve done one in Nottingham and in Liverpool, and have one coming up in Surrey,” said Tadd. “It’s a long way to drive but it’s worth it. My aim is to be a one-store business but to have national reach through events like this and the website.”

The store’s website was revamped earlier this month and it has partnered with a web marketing and promotions firm in a bid to boost sales from 35% of turnover to 60% over the next two years. 

The loyalty scheme has been introduced to combat recession-hit customers’ requests for discounts. Shoppers receive a stamp for every £100 spent and once they have five stamps, they receive a £30 voucher.

“Customers spend that bit extra to get a stamp,” added Tadd.

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