I’m writing this in the hellish heat of a Croydon heatwave. As ever, we’re caught off guard by any form of extreme weather. ‘Whew wot a scorcher!!’ screams the Financial Times and ‘Hot weather boosts seasonal clothing sales’ according to the Sun’s headline writers.
And indeed the blistering good weather is good news for sales. We had a disturbingly large number of polos but these are now flying out of the stores and our decision not to go on sale until 1st July is proving to have been sensible. Indeed, I’m starting A/W feeling cautiously optimistic.
I think there’s something in the air; house prices seem to be ticking up, Andy Murray won Wimbledon and the sun’s out. All good. And although they may seem flippant, throwaway comments, it should be remembered that most recessions-and recoveries-are sentiment driven. If people feel confident, they’re more inclined to spend. I don’t expect a return to the heady days of the early noughties, but I’m feeling positive enough to be investing in new staff.
I have a friend whose opinion I truly value. He’s an unusual hybrid of accountant mixed with a passion and flair for fashion and an unerring eye for quality. Recently, seeing me run ragged by trying to squeeze an eighty hour day into a twelve hour one, he sat me down and asked to me to define what it is, exactly, that I want the Simon Carter brand and business to do. ‘You lack focus,’ he said . ‘You spread yourself and the business too thin. Analyse what you do best, and concentrate on that for the next five years. You react too much; plan and strategise more’.
It was a tough lesson to absorb, but he is right, and it really set me thinking. I’m clear that I need to build the brand’s profile more, and to open more stores.
And this is where the new staff come in. I’ve recruited a Marketing Manager, and a marketing intern. I’ve appointed an Independent Stores Sales Manager, and hired a property consultant. For a smaller business like mine, these are bold moves, but essential to take the brand forward.
Meanwhile, the most pressing issue of the day is the quest for ice cubes…