New research has revealed how escalating overheads are crippling UK independents, with 60% of indie owners polled fearing they won’t survive if costs rise higher.
The study by price comparison website Make It Cheaper and the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR) found that back-office costs for small firms have risen nearly 25% since 2005, and that indies are having to come up with ever more innovative strategies to stay afloat.
Of the 750 indies polled for the study, 85% said the UK had become an “unbearably expensive” place to do business.
Topping the list of complaints among indies spoken to by Drapers was business rate increases.
James Leslie, co-owner of three-store London women’s denim indie Trilogy, said: “If I were in charge, the first thing I would do for indies is make rates negligible for a year.”
Pamela Shiffer, owner of premium womenswear indie Pamela Shiffer in Primrose Hill and Notting Hill, London, said: “The litmus paper is being licked as to who can stand it [the rising costs] and who gives up. Some say it’s not worth it.”
Shiffer said she has kept her business alive by creating new price points and by working closely with brands to bring in styles that are not stocked by competitors.
At designer womenswear indie Square in Bath, buyer John McNulty said retailers must absorb rising overheads. “The only way to keep your margins is to become ruthless with your buying. You have to monitor the figures like never before. Flexible suppliers will take back a top if it’s not selling and replace it with something that will.”
Daniel Le Sauvage, owner of Ipswich young fashion indie Urban Vintage, installed solar panels in a bid to counter next month’s rise in gas and electricity prices.
- Tell us how your business is coping with rising overheads below