Steve Cochrane owner and chief executive of indie department store Psyche in Middlesbrough
How is trade at the moment?
It’s been really good. It was tough for us in August and October but people seemed to start spending again late in the year, whereas they held off in late 2008. Customers definitely seemed more relaxed with their spending so it’s been easy to peak last year’s figures.
Have you done anything new to drive trade?
We increased our marketing spend in the latter half of 2009, which helped. We’ve tried different things such as TV promotions and radio advertising. We also hold catwalk shows in our store, which has brought more women in and we’ve become much more proactive in direct marketing to our customer database.
Which sectors have been doing well?
Last May before we redesigned the store, our figures were down by 13%. However, we moved womenswear and kidswear to the ground floor which has been helping. Also, two kidswear stores that were around the corner have closed, which has helped drive more customers to our store.
Which styles and brands are selling best?
For womenswear we’re selling a lot of D&G and Paul Smith at the moment and for men D&G, Armani and Hugo Boss are doing well. In our young fashion zone, which caters for ages 16 -25, girls’ prom dresses and short sparkly sequin-style dresses did well at Christmas and for boys we the denim and checked shirts from brands like Penguin, Fred Perry, and Levi continue to do well. For spring we’ll be taking on Our Legacy and Barbour as new brands.
Has competition from high street department stores increased?
The likes of House of Fraser have brought more branded products in but we haven’t been severely affected because we try to stock a different mix from the multiples. We also provide better customer service. Throughout Christmas we provided gift wrapping for every item, we carry customers’ bags to their car, and refer to them by name. We are also a lot more experimental than the department store chains. We try new brands we pick up at trade shows in Paris and Copenhagen such as Gallery.