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Does your shop sell other items besides footwear, bags, gloves, tights, socks, below the ankle products? We sell ladies handbags, a selection of traditional quality leather bags and


more fashionable options, being in a city centre there is tough competition in this area in a city when the largest store is Primark. We also stock a large range of Sundries, mostly from Punch.


Any tips on stock offers, novel ideas for clearing lines or advice for independent shoe retailers who might be feeling the pinch? We run Special offers all year round and have 2 seasonal Sales. We do try to keep our stock clean, by this I mean we try to clear out well


each season, as if a line didn’t sell one year it is unlikely to the next, so it will only be dead money preventing the purchase of new stock and new life into the store.


We are fairly traditional in our Adult offering and the business leans towards casual rather than too much fashion, but this is being addressed with the introduction of new brands. As we all know our more mature traditional clients now want to wear more fashionable styling.


Do you have an online shop/website and do you use social networking for business? We have a fully transactional website www.charlesager.co.uk working out


of the offices at our Coventry store, this is constantly being developed and is changing at present, we do not sell fitted children’s shoes on the site but offer children’s fashion brands and all ladies and gents. We have Facebook and a Twitter page and write blogs and link in interesting footwear features. Online we face much bigger competition as almost all our suppliers now


sell online, they seem to have forgotten about the small independent retailer who helped build their Brands.


How are you finding the footwear market currently? Just recently, early March, with the new seasonal product now entering


the store daily by the van load, this is sparking interest with customers, prior to this the season had not really been encouraging. We are up against very poor figures from last year with the snow that took it’s time to disappear. Easter is late so we need brighter weather to lift spirits and entice customers to need new shoes. In Coventry our customers are looking for a bargain we are finding the


premium brands are suffering for us and we are needing to bring in other product at a lower price point, it is very hard as we are still thought of as ‘the best shoe shop in Coventry’ and don’t want to devalue our image and reputation of all the 175yrs gone by.


What’s selling well? Any particular trends? Which are your best selling footwear brands and why? If you include the on-line business it seems that comfort casual functional


footwear is the main area where we are taking money, with the seasonal shift out of boots into an everyday shoe, waiting for the weather to break for the more seasonal lighter product to kick in. Clarks are performing the best overall but mainly the more value end followed by Rieker.


How important is shoe fitting to your business? Are you or any of your staff members of the Society of Shoe Fitters? We have a good reputation in Coventry for Children’s shoe fitting and we


get customers sent to us from the podiatry department of the hospital knowing we will be able to help and advice with shoe choices for adults. The brands we stock offer a choice of fittings for adults it is not our job to preach but purely advise when asked. We shall have some activities going on for National Shoe fitting week starting 12th April, being the school Easter holidays we will link it in with a Prize Draw competition aimed at the children to win an ipod mini, which child doesn’t want to win one of these? We are also planning a fun feature ‘Animals in shoes’ to pick your favourite and ‘like’ it either in store or on line on our Facebook page. As yet I haven’t contacted the local radio, we did get a good feature last year along with a chiropodist on a live chat show.


APRIL 2014 • FOOTWEAR TODAY • 29


What is your favourite men’s footwear brand/manufacturer - ditto ladies/children’s brand and why? Our best performing brand is Clarks, this is the best volume performing


brand. As we use their Auto Fill stock control system where we have easy control of our patterns as the season develops and hopefully react to trends easier than with other brands. We may have over 5000 pairs of Clarks children’s on the shelf prior to Back To School.


How do you select your products- which criteria do you use/what are customers looking for? We have detailed stock/sales records these help with forward buying and quantities needed. It is important to keep up with trends to a degree but being more traditional and our location in Coventry we are not the first area to notice big trend changes.


Which footwear/fashion shows do you attend, how do you rate them? MODA is the only show we go to even though it’s at silly times of the year,


February half term and at the start of BTS in August. For this reason and as now many of our suppliers no longer attend, MODA is becoming less important to us. I feel a show is to view what is available for the coming season so that more informed decisions are made in range building but this can’t be done at MODA anymore.


And next step? Any plans for the future, new lines, retail systems/new technology, etc? Our Website is currently being looked at in depth for change to expand this side of the business in doing so we have bought from companies that are not in our ‘comfort zone’ as the Internet is a completely different selling platform.


www.charlesager.co.uk


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