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Rising debt puts the lid on Marmalade, Devon

The owner of contemporary womenswear indie Marmalade has filed for bankruptcy after the business was hit by rising debts and a drop in sales.

Lisa Fifer said the store in Axminster, Devon, which ceased trading this month, was unable to meet payment demands from its former landlord following its relocation earlier this year.

Marmalade opened in 2005 and relocated from Chard Street on the outskirts of Axminster to West Street in the town centre at the end of January, where it enjoyed a threefold hike in footfall in its first three months.

However, average spend was down and footfall began to drop off from May.

“The recession seemed to hit us later in Devon and has lasted for longer, so even after moving to the new site trade was slow and we couldn’t make back the amount we’d had to pay to break the previous lease,” said Fifer.

She also said that the change of Government and uncertainty ahead of the emergency Budget had an impact on consumer spending.

“There was a sharp drop in sales in May and June even though the weather was beautiful,” she said. “Customers who would be spending an average of £300 a year ago were down to £90.”

Fifer had invested her personal wealth in Marmalade and operated as a sole trader, forcing her to file for personal bankruptcy rather than for administration on behalf of Marmalade.

She now plans to set up as a freelance visual merchandiser and stylist. Marmalade was the only indie to reach the finals of sector skills council Skillsmart’s SkillVM visual merchandising competition for two years running - beating the likes of John Lewis, Next and Gap.

“I did an image and styling course through the Open University while I ran the shop,” added Fifer.

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