The words used by retailers to describe the seminars presented by bridal professionals during The London Bridal Show included: riveting, inspiring, thought-provoking, educational, entertaining, challenging. Moderated by Susi Rogol of Bridal Buyer, these sessions have proved to be a huge hit. We take a look at some of the questions raised by retailers and the answers given…
SR: Nick - Minimums. Where do you stand on this as so many shops say minimums are causing them cash flow problems? Would you be prepared to take back sample dresses that fail to generate orders and issue credits for them?
Nick Day of Justin Alexander: We produce upwards of 50 new samples for each of our collections and to be listed as a stockist you have to buy a fair proportion. If we were to list stockists who buy just a few pieces, then we would have to increase the number of stockists we have to cover the styles that we are advertising.
We all know that brides travel miles in order to try on dresses and it doesn’t do anything for labels to be in too many shops. In fact, I would say it devalues the label.
There is no such thing as a free dress. Depending on how a supplier is set up they can choose to give away free samples or take back ‘duff’ designs. But those dresses have to be paid for somewhere and the cost would have to be built into the price of the dresses.
During the next year, we will reinvest what will be millions of pounds back into our industry through better interactive websites and social media platforms. Our goal is to get more brides through our stockists’ doors and hopefully sell more of our dresses.
We all know it is impossible to predict with 100% accuracy what will be the winning designs for the next season. From ten dresses you may be lucky and have five or six that are real winners. There will be a couple that do OK but as sure as eggs are eggs there will be some that just don’t work. Consider why. It may be that you’ve got the dress in the wrong colour, or the wrong size, or you’ve got a competing style, or simply that you or your staff don’t like a particular design.
SR: Tony - You deal with a diverse number of well established brands and a broad range of boutiques covering different price brackets and customer types. What do you recommend to shops in terms of ordering patterns? Do too many shops carry too many brands and too few pieces of each? And, what about space allocation in store - should accessories have their own space? And another one for you - what about Designer Days - should shops get involved and plan a whole season of them?
Tony Bromilow, sales agent for Miranda Templeton, Modeca, and Cabotine: Overall, I think stores tend to carry too many brands. The shops that buy well into fewer collections are the shops that repeat well and build long-term relationships with their suppliers. It is important not to over-commit to too many brands as they each have minimums that you are required to buy each season/year. It is equally important to accept if a brand is not working for you and to discuss this with your agent. We are here to offer advice and support our stockists as much as possible.
Designer Days, when marketed properly, can prove to be very successful and give stores a chance to see the dresses on their brides and consider what they may be missing from the collection.
In terms of accessories, it is of course up to the individual boutique, but having allocated space helps showcase the products to best advantage and invites a bride to touch, try, and choose.
Even more expert advice can be seen in the latest issue of Bridal Buyer.