High street woes are ‘self inflicted’ says boss of Bakers & Larners in Holt
Stores reporting dismal trade over the festive period 'only have themselves to blame' according to one Norfolk department store boss.
Michael Baker, managing director of Holt's Bakers & Larners – often dubbed the 'county's Harrods' – criticised high street shops for their festive tales of woe as he announced his store had seen an overall increase in sales by more than 5% compared.
He blamed 'poor service, too little variety of stock and total incompetence when it comes to management' for some stores poor figures.
The sales spike, from November to the end of December, was largely thanks to a huge jump in sales of hampers – up by 45% – as well as wine and ladies wear, both up by more than 9% and grocery sales, which climbed by 8%.
Mr Baker was very critical of high street stores, particularly those which decided to start sales before Christmas: 'That shows an incredible lack of intelligence, total panic and incompetence in terms of management, it is something you just don't do. We have genuine sales after Christmas and don't bring in vans of stock.
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'We don't tell customers that we will order an item in at half price; that is a total con. We also sell edible cheese and proper wine and not that mythical bottle which was never sold for £10 but which appears on the shelf, 'at half price', for £5 which was all it was worth in the first place.'
Mr Baker went on to say he felt his store, which celebrates its 250th anniversary next year, had done so well because of the product range offered, the quality of items and the service provided by staff.
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'I spent a fortnight on the shop floor over Christmas and people said to me how 'unusual it was to find a shop like this.'
'We don't, like so many high street stores, tell someone asking for something in store to 'try on the website.' If you go into a high street store, the staff just don't want to be there and you have trouble knowing which shop you are in as they are all selling the same product.
'We source different things and we talk to our customers and find out what they want to buy.'
Bucking the migration from high street to online, sales remain better at Bakers & Larners actual store.
Mr Baker added: 'We offer food tastings, demonstrations in our gadget department, show how to do hanging baskets in our gardening area; this is all theatre in store by engaged staff.'