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Sheila Barry

Drapers probes leading independents to get their View From the Shop Floor.

How is trade at the moment?

It’s OK. To be honest, May has been a bad month because the weather was hopeless at first. But we’ve done slightly better this week than last week because the weather has picked up and that brings people out.

How is the recession affecting sales?

They’ve not been affected so much at the mature end of our business, but the young fashion footwear is seeing a fall in sales. They’re not spending because they don’t have as much spare cash at the moment.

Which brands are selling well at the moment?

At the moment we are selling quite a lot Wendel in our casual area. In the dressy area Lotus handbags are doing well. Anything above the dressy shoe price point is seen as too expensive at the moment and isn’t selling well. At the younger end of the market, Rocket Dog and Fly London are selling well for us and I know Sketchers is performing well in the market in general.

Are you doing anything special to drive sales in these tough times?

We’ve had a couple of promotional weekends recently. We won the Drapers Independent Retailer of the Year Award, which helped raise our profile and we had a celebration on the weekend to thank our customers and staff for all their support. 

What is your store doing to set itself apart from others?

We like to feel that we have the personal touch. We’re a family business. We change our window displays on a regular basis to keep things fresh and we try to give customers as many freebies as we can, just little things like key chains. All these things help. 

Are you visiting any trade shows for spring 10?

We’ll probably start off with Moda, and then I’ll see where we go from there. 

Do your customers go for comfort or style?

It depends on the age group. The older age group, the Rieker age group, looks for comfort with a wee bit of style. The younger ones look for style, with a bit of comfort. 

Are there any trends in footwear at the moment?

The gladiator look has been very strong with us. A lot of colour is big as well. We’re selling a lot of pumps again. But again, at the casual end, it’s all about comfort.

Will you be looking to introduce any new brands next year?

We’ve only recently introduced some so I’m not sure what’s next, but Rocket Dog is a new brand that has performed very well for us. Blowfish has also been doing quite well. I still am very interested in getting some younger, dressy, wedding-type shoes. 

Do you have a transactional website?

No, but we have a website and we’re looking at different ways that we might update it at the moment.

What is your priority over the next year?

Basically just to drive sales and keep our customers. Obviously that is the most important thing in these tough times - that and keeping staff working as a team.

  • Sheila Barry is manager of footwear independent Donaghys in Northern Ireland
  • Brands include Fly London, Rocket Dog, Skechers, Wendel

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