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A case study of luxury retailing in London in time of COVID 19: is it affecting your business?

A case study of luxury retailing in London in time of COVID 19: is it affecting your accessories business?: Image 1 There's no doubt bridal retailers, suppliers and designers around the globe are finding their business affected by COVID-19. With this in mind Attire Bridal caught up with Ormonde Jayne Perfumery founder Linda Pilkington, to discuss the challenges she faces as a retailer due to the Corona virus outbreak...

"For me, parking availability in Mayfair is an accurate gauge of what’s happening in the world.  I’ve been driving a G-Wiz electric car into Old Bond Street every day for 14 years. I spend a minimum of five minutes hunting a parking space even though my car is half sized every day.   Last week there were six free places and this morning I had a choice of eight places"

Has this had an effect on your profits?
"Our turnover luckily has stayed constant for the moment as we have both online sales from a worldwide customer base and trade from in our boutique. But what has changed is that in the last week, our phone orders and online orders have stepped up and there are noticeably less shoppers and tourists in The Royal Arcade and around Old Bond Street. The weeks before Mother’s Day are usually quite busy in the boutique, but what is fortunate for us is that many shoppers are happy to buy online and already know their favourite perfumes. The amount of shoppers in Harrods and Selfridges has been less affected, but I have certainly noticed less tourists."

How do you deal with such a changing environment?
"As a result of the past three years of uncertainty over Brexit and possibilities of a No Deal, we are much better prepared to react and respond with agility to any situation. I sometimes feel like a tiger in a nature documentary ready for anything. We are evolving and considering new possibilities that the Corona virus could bring because more than ever, the future is unpredictable for everyone.

"Also, although the majority of our supplies and ingredients are from the UK and Europe, we still rely on importing certain parts of our packaging from China, namely our overcaps. I’ve only just managed to receive them today after a delay of a few weeks. But unlike a lot of industries, our goods are not perishable so a few days or weeks delay is not a threat, and of course niche perfumery isn’t an essential in the greater scheme of life."

What extra measures are your staff taking in the boutiques?
"Our retail staff aren’t only in our boutique in The Royal Arcade in Old Bond Street, but also in Harrods, Selfridges in Manchester and Fortnum & Mason. Two weeks ago I wrote a personal letter to every one of our employees with measures detailing how to protect themselves, to make sure they washed their hands and used hand sanitisers after every journey. I’ve also urged them to let me know about any extra expenses to keep them and their families safe. We already had measures in place like disinfecting the till, the door handles and the counters after each customer and disinfecting with a wipe each tester bottle of perfume. The dangers are more from a client that walks in a sneezes, but we haven't had that situation yet."

Any extra tips to keep safe?
"As we make our perfumes in our studio, we also have a good supply of alcohol so we have made our own hand sanitising gel. Our recipe is 2/3 of a cup of alcohol (at least 70% strength) mixed with 1/3 aloe vera gel and a table spoon of glycerine. I then add five drops of tea tree oil and five drops of orange oil. The best solution is always to wash your hands before you do anything, don't share snacks, no hand shakes and cough and sneeze into your elbow if you don't have a tissue at the ready."

Keep up with the government's latest advice concerning COVID-19 here.