A message to suppliers

 

We’ve had so many retailers getting in touch regarding the high street and outlet stores, and how these can be detrimental to their business. Michelle McGuinness of The Bridal Boutique tells suppliers how they should be helping our industry…

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michelle mcguinness the bridal boutique

As I prepare for our visit to Harrogate, I look around my boutique and wonder where on earth I am going to put any new stock. We are bursting at the seams with dresses. We have already dropped our bridesmaid collections to make some space, but that has quickly been filled. Many more dresses, and we will start to resemble a jumble sale!

While we used to have a steady stream of brides buying our sample dresses, boosted by a couple of big sample sale days a year, the rising popularity of outlet shopping has meant these brides just don’t seem to exist anymore. There are fewer brides desperate for a bargain from a traditional bridal shop, there are fewer brides panic buying dresses for a short notice wedding. These women seem happy to shop at outlets such as the behemoth Wed2Be. They know the experience isn’t great, but they can get what they perceive as a ‘new’ dress rather than an ex-sample, with minimum fuss and can take it home that day. Long gone are the days of manic sample sales with queues at the door.

So, for me, and many other similar retailers, I suspect we are faced with shops full to bursting with dresses - dresses that represent a significant amount of expenditure, that we no longer want. In turn we have no space for the dresses we are expected to order in Harrogate, and more worryingly, a hugely decreased budget to spend there. I rely on sample sale income to fund my new stock.

Will this be recognised by our suppliers, or will they still expect us to buy their minimum requirements next week? I haven’t seen much evidence so far that suppliers appreciate the problem at all.

The current business model is flawed. It can’t and won’t continue. Just this week two BBRA members have announced their closure. Is this because they see a show looming in their diaries and realised they just cannot spend more money on dresses that they can’t sell when they reach the end of their shelf life?

So what do suppliers need to be aware of?

  1. They should appreciate that if we fall, they too will fall
  2. They need to realise that the landscape has changed and the way we do business with each other must also change
  3. Minimums should be hugely reduced as it doesn’t work for us. We appreciate that you need a certain level of commitment from stockists but minimums are too high at the moment. Let shops buy what they can afford and their business stands a fighting chance of long term success
  4. Stock samples need to be sold to us at less than wholesale. If we can’t recoup our investment in samples by selling them, then we can’t be expected to pay the same for them as repeat orders

Suppliers need to be aware of the wants and needs of the people they are working with, and this is what we’re hoping will happen. Of course we need to be cautious when buying, but new times are coming. Retailers are excited and looking forward to Harrogate - it’s a time to enjoy buying beautiful gowns, and look forward to building new and solid business relationships.

 

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