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Sarah Coggles berated for Grazia promotion

Designer independent Sarah Coggles has angered its market rivals after launching a 30%-off promotion across its website in women’s glossy magazine Grazia.

Premium indies including Sunday Best in Rawtenstall, Lancashire, Newcastle upon Tyne-based Jules B and Emporio Clothing in Worcester, have lambasted Sarah Coggles owner Mark Bage for offering the discount on more than 200 brands – including Paul Smith, Vivienne Westwood Anglomania and Nicole Farhi – for two weeks until October 12.

The trio of indies baulked at the level of the discount, and the high-profile ad and cover line – Grazia sells about 228,700 copies a week. They claimed the promotion hit their bottom lines and reduced customer demand for new season autumn product.

“We had to break one of our own rules and it was a one-off. I thought long and hard about it and came to the conclusion that if any other indie was in my shoes and Grazia said ‘you can go on the front cover’, they wouldn’t have turned it down.”

Mark Bage, owner, Sarah Coggles

Indies generally do not discount outside of the traditional Sale periods during the year, but they have seen their market share eroded by recent heavy discounting by multiple department stores.

“I was horrified to see this from a reputable retailer,” said Rhona Blades, co-owner of Jules B, which sells brands including Vivienne Westwood Anglomania and Twenty8Twelve. “It’s an approach that is bad for the industry and the repercussions have been phenomenal. Sarah Coggles has offended colleagues in the industry.”

Bage defended the move and Sarah Coggles’ reputation as a retailer with a strong track record where promotional activity is concerned. “We rarely do promotions and that hasn’t changed,” said Bage. “We had to break one of our own rules and it was a one-off. I thought long and hard about it and came to the conclusion that if any other indie was in my shoes and Grazia said ‘you can go on the front cover’, they wouldn’t have turned it down.”

Paula Jauncey, owner of Emporio Clothing in Worcester, which sells Paul Smith and Joseph, said: “It was cavalier and we are furious. Customers have started bargaining with us and the designer ethos then becomes market trader.”

It is understood that a number of brands involved in the promotion asked to be withdrawn from it following calls from angry stockists.

The boss of one brand involved said: “Part of me feels ‘good on him’, and the other part understands why people are irate as it’s not ideal to set a precedent. It’s a gamble unless you’re a massive department store and you can get away with it.”

Sunday Best owner Jan Shutt added: “There is a gentlemen’s agreement when it comes to RRP. It’s good to make a stand to address this.”

What do you think about’s discounting scheme? Post your comments in the box below.

Readers' comments (26)

  • Whatever sector of retail we are in, the reaction seen here is so typical of that introversion only seen in Britain. Anyone of any standing in the business knows this campaign has been a great success and any comment from a person about detrimental impact on their business is actually living in 1973. This is life as we know it now; its tough for the indies to make their mark, stay ahead and alive, and a mature business such as this that has true passion and sets a great benchmark and creatively inspires has to take its chances and cease opportunties.Any business that is bricks and no clicks is over in the next 24 months, a fact so many cannot face , and still 6 years on, cant see the light Myself; 30% off my shopping at Ocada last week; 30% off my shopping at Tesco the week before and 35-40% of all my weekly book shopping at Amazon . How small and insignificant the protestors and competitors may feel, its not a time to be disingenious; its time to move forwards.

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  • bearing in mind the close relationship the store Sunday Best has with Drapers (the owner writes a column), I find it highly inappropriate and unprofessional that the editor should accuse Coggles of being "hugely irresponsible" in her editors letter. Who is she to accuse them of being irresponsible?? does she accuse M&S of being irresponsible when they discount early? no, because Drapers is so obsessed with the M&S share price and Stuart Rose that there behavious passes without judgement. Just because a couple of stores have turned a one-off mag promotion discount into sour grapes, it doesn't mean Drapers should report this non-story and especially not in such personal terms. A quick seach of finds no mention of grazia magazine so the promotion was aimed squarely at the readership only, not a widely available discount code. Good on Coggles for promoting online shopping for fresh designerwear to a wider audience (beyond the usual ASOS) which everyone should benefit from in the long run.

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  • With the utmost respect to the Dreapers team, I do notice that they don;t dare to report on certain topical issues and could be seen to be a teeny tiny bit sychophantic at times.....but the ads pay the wages so, unless a trade mag can exist ad free, then the content isn't ever going to upset the advertisors or the P/T 'journalists' who work in the industry, who write in it.

    That is why I think Coggles was brave and just did what he did for his own benefit during a difficult trading period. He knew he would get flack and, maybe, some from the big brands but still did what he thought was best for his business. Good for him.

    The Times has written about Mr K Stanford, Landsbanki et al and Bauger yet Drapers hasn't mentioned him for months....not a sausage yet he was a very big player in retail during the past decade.

    IF (and I emphasise IF) The Sunday best proprieter is a bit miffed by it, then she has 2 ways to go. Stay as she is or try beat them at their own game...and do her own web promo....but bigger and better.

    Retailing is changing massively, really quickly. I think us 30+'s are used to change and can adapt but not to it happening so quickly. I will confess to it catching me out a couple of years back.

    The comm landlords were well wrong footed as their values dropped 40% in 18 months despite all the cloaking and tricks. Unheard of as drops like that take years usually.

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  • I would be very careful if I were a brand demanding to be taken out of the promotion!!! Are they trying to influence the RRP that Sarah Coggles are going to market with.......

    The comment;
    “There is a gentlemen’s agreement when it comes to RRP. It’s good to make a stand to address this.” incredible......

    They would do well to look at the sports industry and the price fixing / restriction of trade issues.

    Too often I am still hearing of these price conversations taking place and this will keep occurring until there is a high profile casualty. The office of fair trading made an example of the Sports Multiples and brands. This could well happen in the fashion industry. We have been warned......

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  • re: 'They would do well to look at the sports industry and the price fixing / restriction of trade issues.'
    There is a lot more to this statement than meets the eye and the fashion industry could take heed from it.
    The Sports retail trade is now dominated by only 4-5 national companies? How many towns/cities have independent sports shops in 2009?
    All of whom are 'guilty' of driving prices down to the lowest common denominater then 'allegedly agreeing prices' for Man Utd and England replica football tops.
    My fear for the fashion industry is that we too fall into the trap of constantly 'being in sale' and consummers go hunting for label products that are constantly discounted.
    Again I agree with the person that talks about retailers needing to have 'clicks as well as bricks'...but in my humble opinion we can't have 'clicks' without 'bricks'. Shops have much greater overheads than e-tail business which is why astute manufacturers 'advise' on RRP's for website - thus ensuring the longevity of not only their brands but our bloody industry too!

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  • RE Grazia maybe S Coggles needed the money to pay there suppliers

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