British retailers feel the squeeze

"Now, those customers are having to downsize their budgets.”

“The top brands will be hit big time,” continues Harjani, who founded the luxury British clothing brand with his wife Radhika in 1992. “The days of conspicuous consumption and irrational exuberance are over."

According to the survey, carried out by PR firm Kreab Gavin Anderson, a third of British retailers don’t expect the market to pick up until the end of 2010. Even then, most predict a “slow crawl out of the slump”.

Harjani reckons that some retailers will still be able to make a killing on the high street. “Retailers that will supply value, price and customer service will excel in this time. Stores such as Primark, New Look, 99p, Asda and Aldi are flying. Those with a niche, such as Aftershock, won’t be affected, either. You can go to a designer store and pick up a dress for £1,000 or come to us and pick up something very similar for £100.  We have not experienced any slowdown.  On the contrary, we’re adding 15 new franchisees this year, so our turnover will probably be up. And we’re launching our brand “Little Buddha”, which will be a category killer, selling products below the £10 mark.  

The biggest sufferers will be those dependant on finance from banks, says Harjani, who claims that “the blame for most ills are the US bankers and UK landlords, who have empty stores but will not reduce the rent”.  

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