Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Running a retail bridal business


IN THIS DAY AND AGE, MANY WOULD ARGUE,
running a retail bridal business brings
headaches aplenty – cash flow problems,
brides with shop-around tendencies,
internet traders offering the ‘real thing’
(which it never is) for near-to-nothing, as
well as minimum order requirements,
and competitors fast to promote and ready to
discount. Now add to that possible rent increases,
staff salary reviews, the constant need to update
décor, and the small expenses that add up fast –
like the nibbles and bubbles that help seal a deal.
People go into bridal usually because of a
passion for the industry, rather than as a route
to making millions, and right from the start
they invest time, money and caring into getting
their offering right. How do they then feel when
right round the corner, someone sets up from
their front room or even a garden shed, and vies
for the same slice of the cake?

Rob and Andrew Pearce, the boys behind
award-winning retailer Creatiques, have been
in business for 25 years and, in fact, started
their bridal success story working from home.
Big difference though – they were designing
and making gowns themselves, not buying
and selling. “Today, it is becoming increasingly
obvious that many home traders are purchasing
from Chinese websites, and offering ‘designer
dresses’ for £199. One near us told a bride to visit
our shop, get our advice, take a couple of photos
and that with that information, she would source
a dress for her online. We sent a secret shopper
to her and yes, our girl got the same story.
“We pick our labels with great care and
use the experience and expertise we have
gained over more than two decades
in the business,” says Andrew. “We
have worked hard to develop good
relationships with our designers. We
pay rates and taxes to have a high
street store, yet home traders operate
with none of these expenses, and often without insurance, or even credit card charges.

Local councils should clamp down on home
trading; last year we looked at buying new
premises, but the council would not re-zone the
property for retail use, so that was the end of it.
If you cook and sell food from your home there
are rules and regulations governing what you
can and can’t do – I wonder what they have in
place for home traders… probably nothing.”
Stephanie Hanks of Brides to Be in Reading,
believes suppliers themselves need to take
responsibility. “What really angers me is the fact that supposedly
reputable designers
and manufacturers
are happy to offload their sample dresses at
rock-bottom prices to home traders. Surely most
of these companies have covered their initial
costs, when we bona fide retailers place our
sample orders? Why can’t these suppliers send
their ex/unwanted samples abroad?
“It is a very worrying time for a true bridal
shop that employs a team of staff and pays
expensive high street rent and rates – a coffee
shop seems a more attractive and less stressful
proposition going forward – at least you can’t
buy a cup of coffee online or from someone’s
spare bedroom.

“Home traders are not similar to us high
street shops, and they should not be treated
with the same reverence. They have not
invested many thousands of pounds in stock
and support of labels as we have, they have not
invested in a team of well-trained staff and yet
they wish to be perceived in the same light. We
work up to a standard and not down to a price.
In my view a home trader reduces the bridal
gown purchasing experience to something
akin to Tupperware.”
For more info goto the leading Egypt wedding designer, The Wedding Engineers

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