Firstly I would like to wish everyone involved in the shoe industry whether a Retailer, Agent Wholesaler or Manufacturer a very prosperous and Happy New Year. I am sure 2014 is going to be a good year. Over the last 12 months I have rambled on about all aspects of the shoe trade from customer complaints to manufacturers not supporting the retailer and hopefully it has sparked a thought in everyone’s mind.
This month I have been thinking about retailers who hold on to everything including themselves. When I was on the road I visited some fantastic shops. One thing that really confused me was when I would show a lovely range of new product and the retailer would say “I’ll just do a stock take of some similar style I have left from last year”. They would then give me broken size run which completely lost the new style. Other shops would have so much old stock you could hardly get in the shop let alone any room for new stock. Old stock is Cancerous. It grows and grows until it chokes your business. If it doesn’t sell in the first season it is very unlikely to sell any time at full price, reduce it and clear it.
Then we move on to the display room. How many shops still keep POS from a supplier which is well over a year old? The image is completely out of date. As for the Christmas decorations I would guess most shops have had the same decorations for the last 10 years. Go through them while it’s quiet and get rid of anything that is old or broken. Ok, so the stockroom is sorted and the display room has space to breathe, so where do we go next? The shop floor. I mentioned this in one of my earlier pieces. When was the last time you really looked at the retail area? Does it need a quick lick of paint? How is the flooring? In my view the flooring, whether it be carpet or one of these new wood effect floors, is the most important part of a shoe shop. The customer looks down at their feet in Shoe shops not up at the ceiling and if the carpet is threadbare or marked it doesn’t give a good image, especially if you are trying to sell a pair of long boots at £150. This is the time of year to get these little jobs sorted so when the new spring stock arrives it can be displayed on fresh shelves.
Now for the last bit. Those of you who read this column regularly will know I am very keen to see the younger people in the trade given the chance to take the Footwear Industry forward. Unless we allow them to express their ideas, which I quite understand sometimes are very alien to the way it has always been done, the trade will stagnate. There are a number of family businesses which I think is fantastic, I was the 3rd generation of my family business, which I am very proud of. When I look at some of the family businesses nowadays it worries me that the older generation aren’t letting go enough. The most frustrating thing about working for my parents was they wouldn’t let me have a go at something, it was always “Oh I don’t think that will work”.
Isn’t it time to look at your business and maybe think I’ll take it easier and let my son or daughter move the business forward and I will start to enjoy life before it’s too late?
Please email and give me your thoughts or subjects you would like me to natter on about in future editions to