The owner of defunct kidswear retailer Footprints has launched a new store in the aftermath of the former’s liquidation.
Surrey-based Footprints, which was launched in 2001 and had two stores in Haslemere and Farnham, was placed into liquidation on July 16 with debts of £273,854.
Beverley Rafferty is currently working with Footprint’s suppliers, who were notified ahead of the liquidation, to repay debts and build long-term relationships for her new venture, Koast, which also stocks womenswear, which launched earlier this month.
Koast, which has simultaneously launched online, is on the site of the former Footprints store on the High Street in Haslemere, which Rafferty owns outright.
Speaking to Drapers, she said she was taking a different approach to her brand mix with Koast, bringing in more affordable brands alongside the higher end ranges.
New kidswear brands include Frugi and Hatley. She also stocks Scotch Shrunk, her bestseller for boys, Catimini, IKKA and Min A Ture. Meanwhile, she has also introduced womenswear ranges Seasalt and Joules.
“I have looked at which brands do well and which do well online, where we will continue to be more designer-led. I am trying to diversify and offer a mix of more affordable ranges,” she explained. “I am bringing in womenswear so mums can shop for themselves at the same time.”
Rafferty added that the demise of Footprints has been a “very sad process” but that it is indicative of the current market.
“It is a cry for customers to support local businesses. We are trying to retain margin and do different things but our service offering is all we have.”
Koast offers customers a range of purchase options, such as try before you buy and an eight-week payment plan. “We are trying to be proactive as we can’t compete on price but it is a real struggle out there.
“You just have to protect yourself and, if it goes wrong, brush yourself down and get up and do the best you can. And be as fair as you can to suppliers.”
The childrenswear category has struggled over recent years a consumers have slashed spend and, while the birth of the Royal baby is expected to provide a spike in sales, there have already been signs of recovery. The category saw growth of 1.3% over the 24 weeks to June 9, according to data from Kantar Worldpanel Fashion, the strongest across clothing, footwear and accessories over the period.