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 I was very sad to hear about the demise of TM Lewin on the High Street

As a woman in business, I always liked their fitted work blouses and smart skirts. This shop always seemed to be the place to go to for office work clothes that looked good and were not overpriced. I remember shopping there in the 1980’s in London when I worked in Cheapside, and many similar outfits in designer outlets were far out of my price range!
But losing this brand on the high street, seems to show a trend to cut ‘losses’ where the shop as a unit doesn’t make money due to staff costs, whereas the online sales (with lower overheads) are more cost effective. This has been the case with stationery and office stores, homewares and other fashion outlets.

However, who amongst us wants to buy anything without seeing it firsthand? Who buys clothes online and never sends them back because the item doesn’t look like the ‘picture’? More importantly how are these businesses who ONLY sell online without outlets to promote them? I for one don’t bother with cat walks and magazines for designs, I like to go out and see what is available, and make my choice.

I used to shop for my office stationery at a local well known store regularly, but once the shop closed its stores I tried shopping with them online, however the service was dire with a damaged and late delivery, and I have never shopped there since and why should I when there is so much competition? The customer loyalty I had for the local store has completely gone!

The worry is that TM Lewin could go the same way, without the ability to see the suits, and feel the ties, the value and the quality will not stand out if just seen online and they could lose the market share they have very quickly.

The online sales during the pandemic were created by not being able to go out!

Also worth noting is that the huge amount of online sales seen during the pandemic was not a natural thing, and the easing of the lockdown along with the good weather is sending most of us back out to the high street — simply because we can now!

What I am seeing a lot more of in London and in the bigger shopping malls are ‘showpiece stores’ once the staple of housewares — where you see the product in house, dressed and in a mock up of the room it is destined for — and you order for it to be delivered later. Many of the larger department stores have adopted this line for clothes and soft furnishings — not got the size you want? Order now to be delivered!

With online competition for our custom being so sharp, I feel it is worth keeping at least one or two ‘showpiece’ stores for any niche business — especially one as hard fought for as men’s suits so that the consumer can feel the quality and value before ordering it in their size.
In short, the value of the stores is not only in the inhouse sales, but in promoting the brand and in growth overall. We still want to feel the ties and see the rainbow!

Reference :- retailgazette.co.uk/blog -tm-lewin-what-went-wrong/


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