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Strong fashion sales buoy independent department stores

Independent department stores including Browns of York, Morleys and The House of Bruar have recorded an upswing in fashion sales thanks to a combination of improved weather, soft comparatives and concerted eff orts to reinvigorate their offers.

Morleys, which has seven stores in Greater London, told Drapers that like-for-like sales jumped 5.5% from the start of February to May 11, driven by a 20% like-for-like increase in menswear sales.

Executive chairman Bernard Dreesmann said: “Menswear has had a very strong start to the year on the back of bringing in some new brands such as Superdry, which has been outstanding.”

Womenswear was also robust, with like-for-like sales up 8%.  “It’s been really strong growth against soft comparatives,” he added. “We’ve been blessed with better weather than last year.”

Nick Brown, managing director of Browns of York, which also has stores in Helmsley, Beverley and Gainsborough, said men had started shopping again: “We went through a tough time when men weren’t really buying. Now they are buying one or two outfits.”

Browns reported a 5.6% rise in like-for-like sales for the 14 weeks to May 11. Brown cited Ted Baker, Ralph Lauren Polo Golf, Crew Clothing and Tommy Hilfiger as bestsellers within menswear.

The managing director of another independent department store, who wished to remain anonymous, said sales soared 15% for the three months to May 11.

At Ravens in Southend, managing director Neil Raven said it was “slightly up” on last year but footfall was down. However, he added that “when customers come in, they are spending”. He said Gerry Weber remained its womenswear bestseller. Patrick Birkbeck, managing director of The House of Bruar at Blair Atholl in Perthshire, Scotland, said it had enjoyed a positive few months.


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