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Here are some of this week’s news and features highlights handpicked by TheIndustry.fashion team.

ONS Retail sales Reacts data

How can fashion pull itself out of the 2024 retail slump?

Wet weather, squeezed incomes, delayed deliveries… who’d be in fashion retail right now? Most of the people reading this article, that’s who. It’s tough, there’s no question. As well as these external challenges, fashion is undergoing structural change and, in my view anyway, there’s a bit of a lack of exciting product out there too. But before you think about throwing in the towel, it is worth remembering that things are cyclical and fashion will emerge from this slump.

While we’re in the slump though, there are things retailers can do to boost their fortunes and in this feature, contributor Katie Ross speaks to experts who share their advice on arresting the decline, capitalising on the opportunities that exist now (there are some!) and how to bounce back stronger when the recovery comes.

It’s got to be worth a few minutes of anyone’s time to read it.

Lauretta Roberts, Co-founder, CEO and Editor in Chief. 

NEXT

NEXT delivers better-than-forecast rise in sales as it reaffirms profit guidance

NEXT has delivered another quarter of growth, leading the charge in a sector where so many have struggled recently. The British business shrugged off cold and damp spring weather to notch up a better-than-expected rise in first quarter sales.

Its core proposition is continuing to resonate with the UK consumer, having posted a 5.7% increase in full-price sales for the 13 weeks to 27 April 2024, ahead of its guidance for 5% growth. But NEXT said that, despite the higher-than-forecast sales, it still expects early summer trading to slip after a warm weather boost last year. It will be interesting to see how this will impact the retailer’s next set of results, though I imagine not too badly as it kept its sales growth guidance at 2.5% for the first half.

Sophie Smith, News Editor & Senior Writer.

Patrick Grant

The Interview: Patrick Grant of Norton & Sons and Community Clothing on Savile Row, sustainability and Sewing Bee

It was great to catch up with Patrick Grant recently to hear all about his unique new books ‘The Savile Row Suit’, which was published last week, and ‘Less: Stop Buying So Much Rubbish: How Having Fewer, Better Things Can Make Us Happier’, which is published on 9 May. He somehow managed to write them both at the same time, which is pretty impressive. Especially given he’s also a director of two companies, Norton & Sons bespoke tailors on Savile Row and Cookson & Clegg clothing manufacturers in Blackburn.

They’re not even his main gig, as he’s also the driving force behind Community Clothing, which is not only a clothing brand he launched in 2016 but a social enterprise that supports thousands of UK jobs through making and selling affordable, high-quality clothing. Oh, and at the tail end of 2023, he also managed to get in the filming of another 10 part series of ‘The Great British Sewing Bee’ for which he’s been a co-host and judge since it started in 2013. Series 10 is being aired soon.

Little wonder he says he cleared the decks of any more new ventures this year. Though he will be doing a mini book signing tour with gestalten, the publisher of ‘The Savile Row Suit’. The book invites readers into the inner sanctum of Savile Row and has a first-of-a-kind illustrated ‘how to make a handmade suit’ guide, as well as his own experiences of working on Savile Row. Grant reveals all in the interview, it’s well worth a read itself.

Tom Bottomley, Contributing Editor. 

matchesfashion

Frasers buys back Matches’ intellectual property

After months of speculation as to what was going to happen to Matches after Frasers entered the retailer into administration, it has come to light that the group repurchased “certain intellectual property assets”.

In a brief statement to the London Stock Exchange on Monday, Frasers said it reached an agreement with Matches’ joint administrators at Teneo, just two months after placing it into administration. The group said the IP purchase was completed “following an extensive marketing process” by the administrators. Meaning there were no other credible offers tabled for Matches. Yesterday, administrators confirmed that a further 91 Matches employees had been made redundant.

Whether or not this was Frasers Group’s plan all along is unclear, but it will certainly bolster Flannels’ dominance within the luxury sector.

Chloé Burney, Senior News & Features Writer.

Mango’s UK presence to explode with over 20 store openings

As discussed above, fashion retail is tough, but there are opportunities. The evidence of for this comes from Spanish fashion giant Mango, which has so much faith in the opportunity the UK market provides that it’s planning to open a further 20 stores here during 2024, stretching from London to Scotland and Northern Ireland.

This proves the potential that lies in the UK market and it also proves the power of the Mango brand and its stores. By inching itself above Zara in terms of price point and quality, hitting the right trends without producing faddish product and creating pleasant and spacious store environments, Mango has found its niche in the market. And it’s a big niche, clearly, which it is serving well.

A Mango store is bound to be a footfall driver wherever it lands, which is great news for its future neighbours and the UK high street in general.

Lauretta Roberts, Co-founder, CEO and Editor in Chief. 



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