Back in 1985, White Stuff founders Sean Thomas and George Treves were ski fanatics, living the dream in the French Alps. These “Boys From The White Stuff” (geddit?) flogged handmade t-shirts and mountainwear to fellow enthusiasts before opening their first South London shop, called simply “White Stuff”, in 1991. Treves and Thomas grew the fashion label to 14 stores. Then, in 2004, they brought in CEO Sally Bailey to take the business up a gear. “We’re opening ten stores a year now,” says Bailey. “We’ve recently set up shop in Norway, Germany and Sweden too.” The firm has weathered the recession better than most. When Bailey saw the retail sector collapse last year, she took precautions: “We began cutting back on stock last October,” she says. “But November sales were strong and, by December, we didn’t have enough stock left for a January sale!” White Stuff’s customers have proved a loyal bunch. And no wonder: not many credit-crunched retailers give out free hot chocolate and marshmallows. Or have a sense of humour for that matter. White Stuff has been doling out recession tips: “hold on to your teabags, attach them to your shower head: it’s a cheap spray tan!” This high-grade customer service has seen the firm grow 35 per cent year-on-year since 2005.
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