Monday, 30 March 2009
Saturday, 28 March 2009
Friday, 27 March 2009
Fashionista thinks this is a clever marketing strategy. The string of consecutive Christmas No.1 singles for the last 4 years by X Factor winners illustrates the rewards of such interactive initiatives only too clearly. Allow the audience to interact and "get to know" the people behind a product - and with a bit of luck and a measure of talent - the audience will be drawn to the product more than it might otherwise have been which, irrespective of whether or not times are tough, can only be a good thing.
Thursday, 26 March 2009
Fashionista is excited at the news that Agent Provocateur has released plans for growth. Lingerie appears to be outperforming clothing in the current climate and in response, Agent Provocateur intends to more than double the number of its stores and concessions up to 2012. The retailer has at present 43 outlets in total, including 13 new outlets that have opened since 2007.
Another retailer, Supergroup with its brands Cult Clothing and Superdry are also reported to be planning expansion. The company currently has 22 stores in the UK and plans to open another 40 stores over the next three years. Commenting in the Guardian, Rupert Eastell, head of retail at accountants BDO Stoy Hayward (and a friend of Fashionista) pinpoints Superdry as one of the biggest retail recession-busters. He says "Mainstream fashion is all about who is doing least worst at the moment. Sales are likely to go down 15% this year. Success is about niche players and those two [referring to Superdry and Jack Wills] have really found a niche".
There also appears to be further movement in the market at Westfield, the recently completed shopping centre in White City, London. Footwear retailers, Deichmann and Foot Asylum and Bebe Bisou, a luxury children's fashion chain are all committed to taking leases. Since Westfield's launch in October 2008, more than 40 new stores have opened.
Fashionista thinks it nice to hear some good news stories in these troubled times!
Monday, 23 March 2009
Fashionista imagines that Marks and Spencer's shareholders will be one group that will have strong views on the way that the Code has been applied by companies. As reported in the Sunday Times on 22 March 2009, it seems that institutional investors have met with Jan Du Plessis (an independent non-executive director of M&S) recently to raise concerns that Sir Stuart Rose, the M&S boss, has too much power. They want Rose to split the role of executive chairman and chief executive, a position which is contrary to corporate governance best practice - and appoint a new senior independent director. The meeting comes almost a year after 22% of M&S investors abstained or voted against Rose's appointment to executive chairman.
The Code Provisions state that:
- The roles of chairman and chief executive be separated and the division of responsibilities between them set out in writing by the board (Code Provision A.2.1).
- A chief executive should not become chairman of the same company; and if the board decides otherwise, the major shareholders should be consulted in advance of the appointment and the reasons should be set out in the next annual report (Code Provision A.2.2).
- At the time of appointment, the chairman should meet the independence criteria set out in the Code ( Code Provision A.2.2). In addition the board needs to agree a high level statement of which decisions are to be taken by the board and those that are delegated to management.
Companies admitted to listing by the UK Listing Authority and incorporated in the UK are required to "comply or explain" their approach to corporate governance by including a statement in their annual financial reports confirming their compliance with the Code or giving reasons for any non-compliance.
The Code provides that if a Board decides that a chief executive should become chairman, the Board should consult major shareholders in advance and should set out its reasons to shareholders at the time of the appointment and in their next annual report. M&S's statement indicates due to concerns over the risk of leaks and the sensitivity of the changes, the Board did not meet these requirements. However since the announcement, the statement explains that Lord Burns has consulted with a number of principal investors and shareholders to set out the detailed reasons behind the Board's decisions. Despite these efforts, one leading investor told The Sunday Times: “We retain concerns about the M&S board - and we know a lot of other shareholders do. It is difficult to point to evidence that Rose's combined role is benefiting the company and there are growing questions about the performance of the business.”
Friday, 20 March 2009
Fashionista hopes that the Government takes some, if not all, of the proposals on board which will hopefully go some way to easing the pressure on fashion retailers over the coming year. Fashionista will be doing all she can to boost the retail market herself - as if she ever needed an excuse to do more shopping!
Wednesday, 18 March 2009
Many luxury brands already have physical outlet premises (whether independent factory stores or as part of "outlet villages"). However, the new virtual platform proposed by NET-A-PORTER paves a way for clearing old season or surplus stock at minimal cost. It also allows for those brands which do not have a physical outlet to sell surplus stock.
Fashionista thinks this is a great idea - and a "win-win" for brand owners and consumers alike. For the brand owners, the storage costs for the goods will be minimal and the target consumer group will be considerably wider, so there is a potential for stock turnaround to be much faster. For consumers, a discounted price tag in the modern economic climate is an undoubted lure for many, and the comparative ease of online shopping is undeniable in today's fast paced lifestyle where outlet premises are not always on one's doorstep. Sign-up today by clicking here!
Monday, 16 March 2009
The story (according to WalletPop) goes like this. Burlington Coat Factory ("Up to 80% off! Everyone Loves a Good Buy") has been caught passing off low-priced Wal-Mart coats as premium Perry Ellis and Joseph Abboud ("Style with substance") stock. This audacious ploy would have gone undiscovered if a rather surprised customer hadn't noticed that his designer label appeared to have been pasted on. When he gave it a tug, the truth was out. It was nothing but a Wal-Mart product going under a fancy nom-de-plume.
A full-price Perry Ellis coat ($200) looked like a snip from BCF at less than $70 -- except that the original Wal-Mart version, minus the designer label, sold for about $30. BCF denied all knowledge, blaming its suppliers, who in turn blamed a rogue employee who has not been named. Duped shoppers have been offered a full refund plus 20%, which, in the current market condition, they are more likely to spend at Wal-Mart, than BCF.
Thursday, 12 March 2009
- The overall the conclusion is that consumers are still not regularly purchasing items over the internet from other European countries. Some of this is down to personal-based decisions, for example language differences, the efficiency of different postal or payment systems and just familiarity and trust.
- But it isn't just this, since 33% of EU consumers say they are willing to purchase goods and services in another language (good news for UK e-tailers given that English is so widely spoken as a second language in Europe).
- It seems instead that many e-tailers simply aren't wanting to take orders from outside their own country and so impose the barriers themselves. Sometimes this is because of concerns about mulitiple jurisdictional compliance costs and tax management and the Commission is going to look into such barriers further.
- 3/4 of all EU retailers only sell domestically but 1/3 of consumers said that they would consider buying from another country because a product was better or cheaper.
- The UK maintains the second highest user or e-commerce services, pipped by Denmark and closely followed by The Netherlands, Sweden, Germany and Finland so you might want to start thinking about the potential of Nordic markets although another option is where the fastest growth appears to be happening in France, Italy and Spain.
- Clothes and sports goods are the second most popular purchase (at 41%) after holidays and flights, with online retail sales for clothes and footwear totalling 7.3billion euros in their review period of 2002 to 2007.
- Luxembourg, Cyprus, Malta, Denmark and Ireland feature as the most open to cross-border online shopping. The report notes that in smaller and/or insular countries, cross border e-commece has outpaced domestic e-commerce because there is less domestic competition.
Tuesday, 10 March 2009
This concept was embraced just over a decade ago with the opening of Charlton House Hotel in Somerset, after the property was purchased by the creators of the Mulberry brand and decorated with Mulberry soft furnishings - a great advertisement for the brand's ethos and products. Assuming this advertising strategy works (as it did in Fashionista's experience), the Mulberry factory shop is just a stone's throw away so hotel guests can continue to experience the brand at home.
Fashionista asks: is this an example of thinking outside the box in times of economic downturn? will branching out into the hospitality industry attract a broader consumer group, extending to those more likely to save up for an experience rather than an object: a mini-break rather than another addition to the wardrobe? After all, when times are tough, who knows when there will next be an occasion to wear said addition?
Monday, 9 March 2009
A common marketing tool is the competition and very successful they can be too (especially when they involve handbags in Fashionista's view!).
However, it is worth remembering there are laws which impact on how they can be structured and run. Many readers will have been all too aware of last year's furore about numerous TV phone in shows which kept the newspapers busy for months. But laws don't only apply to television competitions and phone-ins and could therefore bite on any website or print competition as well.
Below are some tips on what to look out for:
- If an entrant has to pay to enter (this could for example be by using a premium phone in line, purchasing a product or making another form of payment) and then the winner is selected based on chance, you could be deemed to be running an unlicensed lottery.
- If there is a payment to enter and the outcome depends on both chance and skill (for example you may have a qualifying question and then the winner is selected from the correct answers), you could be providing unlicensed gambling services.
- If entrants have to enter on the basis of deciding if something is true or not true or the outcome of an event, then you could be inadvertently providing unlicensed betting services.
- If in doubt, always make sure that there is a (truly) free means of entry to any competition with no strings attached that is prominently advertised or only run with the same format over and over again which you have had compliance checked.
Providing unlicensed services of the type listed above is in fact a criminal offence enforceable by the Gambling Commission and local authorities so it is worth taking that extra bit of time to check your competitions fall on the right side of the law.
Sunday, 8 March 2009
In a letter sent to Retail Week (dated before Sir Philip Green's meeting), Alastair Darling makes it clear that "there are no plans to amend this system for 2009-10 and freezing rates for 2009-10 would cost almost £1billion in business rates foregone". The Chancellor goes on to say that "the Government recognises the difficulties being experienced across the economy. In response, at the Pre-Budget Report the Governement announced a decisive package of measures to provide an immediate benefit to business, including the cut in the main rate of VAT to 15 per cent, and measures that particularly help small and medium enterprises."
Many retailers believe that the VAT cut has done little to drive sales and criticise the government's decision to increase rates in the current climate. Quoted in the Sunday Times, Phil Wrigley, chairmain of New Look said "We have to make clear the damage [the government] is doing to the economy and to jobs. At best it is opportunistic- at worst it feels like a squeeze which is close to theft".
Fashionista notes that for once, retailers and landlords can be united in their opposition to the Government's tax policy (landlords have long been complaining about the requirement on them to pay rates on empty property), but whether such combined pressure on the goverment can force a review remains to be seen.
Saturday, 7 March 2009
Wednesday, 4 March 2009
Tuesday, 3 March 2009
Deloitte, as administrators will continue to trade Principles and Shoe Studio, which are both in discussions with potential buyers. These will also continue to trade as normal pending sales. Former Rubicon diector Peter Davies confirmed at the weekend that he was interested in Principles, and Debenhams is also thought to have held talks. Deloitte are said to be confident that an announcement about sales of these remaining brands will be made in a couple of days.
Monday, 2 March 2009
GBH then appealed unsuccessfully to the Board of Appeal. Said the Board, since ‘Giorgio’ was the dominant element of each mark, they both looked and sounded similar and conveyed similar conceptual content. In particular, since designers and manufacturers of clothing and other accessories often opened stores in various locations, the words ‘Beverly Hills’ would be viewed by most consumers as an indication of the nature of the goods themselves, being
"a reference to the famous shopping quarter of Los Angeles, in the United States, one of the preferred places of famous designers and manufacturers",
GBH next tried its luck with the Court of First Instance -- and this time it won. The Court held that since the earlier mark was registered in Germany, the key question was whether a reasonable well informed, observant and circumspect German shopping for clothing, footwear and headgear would be confused between the two Giorgios.