Preeta Cooley is owner of premium womenswear indie Curve in Wendover, Buckinghamshire. Brands include Joseph, Paul Smith, Juicy Couture, Karen Cole, Farhi
How is trade at the moment?
We had a very good spring/summer season. Our sales are up on last year by 2.5%. We have just got the tail end of our Sale now and there’s not much left at all. The new season stock is already selling well.
Which brands are doing best?
Doma leather jackets are selling fantastically; we have sold out of them and luckily have kept on top of stock and are able to re-order as necessary. It is mainly brands such as Ella Moss and Hudson that are selling well because they produce transitional pieces that people can wear between seasons.
Are you adjusting your budgets for spring 10?
No, we are keeping them in line with this year because our formula so far has proved pretty successful.
What are the challenges for independent womenswear retailers?
The fact that the high street has continual discounting can prove highly annoying. The climate is an obvious hindrance to sales as it’s an external factor over which retailers have no control. In the UK the weather is so unpredictable that one’s sales can fluctuate on a day-to-day basis. This in conjunction with the struggling economy doesn’t enable independents to forecast their takings from one season to the next.
What advice would you give to independents who are struggling in the recession?
To really look to see who their customer base is rather than making assumptions, and then to make sure they are serving that particular customer as best they can.
What is your priority over the next year?
I want to maintain my loyal customer base, but also expand to excite new customers. I also think it’s vital that I offer diverse collections at affordable prices, which I have always sought to do. The story behind each garment plays an important role in its sale, along with the atmosphere in store and personal relations with each customer. It is all the little extra things that make customers feel special and ensure they return.