Monday, 23 December 2013

I've been saying that I'll post about my competitive shop for a mighty long time now! But we've been so busy doing... well what haven't we been busy doing?!

I've been checking the store stock levels very regularly, pouncing on anything that's selling more quickly than expected. I've only had to send one urgent order - woo!
We've been getting ready for stocktake - tidying up the system (deleting obsolete products...), sending out instructions to the stores and planning all the reporting.
And I've been making sure everything's wrapped up nicely for the end of the year: doing some big transfers/write-offs, checking there are no outstanding orders on my system or our finance package, etc. ..

The other massive job is preparing for the sale - but I think that deserves a post of its own.

So, to the competitive shop:

I found some wonderful vm in Aesop: colour-blocked windows presenting gift sets; autumn leaves piled up in corners of the store (this made it feel really contiguous to the street, so much easier to wander into...)
Jo Malone was looking great, but then Christmas really is their time of year - their packaging is so sophisticated. They had some adorable tree decorations and crackers containing mini products. Reasonably-priced too.
Molton Brown's standout product was the £38 Bathing Treasures Collection - an irresistible rainbow of 12 shower gels. And the snow-dome window was certainly fun.
At Le Labo, Christmas seemed to have passed them by a bit, but I guess tinsel would sit a bit strangely with their very industrial, minimal aesthetic.
Liberty's beauty hall was buzzing festive shoppers. I loved the Diptyque and Frederic Malle special editions to celebrate the department store's anniversary - lovely prints on normally so simple packaging.

I did come up with quite a fun game as well - spot the products in Liberty's window. There's one of my attempts and a couple of other pictures below.

Bottom left, clockwise: CO Bigelow, Cold and Flu Soak (?), Nesti Dante Il Frutteo Soap; Byredo Peyote Poem Candle (?); Crazy Loafers; Acqua di Parma fragrance; Maison Francis Kurkdjian fragrance; Penguin; Fornasetti Sun Print Cup and Saucer; Cute Duck Soap-on-a-Rope

Enjoy the last crazy couple of days before Christmas.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Last weekend was the weekend of a long- and excitedly-awaited trip to Copenhagen. We had a wonderful time, though we were up against it a bit: our flight was delayed by 16 hours (meaning we had to spend a night in glamorous Crawley); and the weather was so cold, I had to stop every couple of hours to thaw out my hands with a coffee/Gløgg.

Sadly, we didn't make it to the Little Mermaid - it would've meant spending too long out in the sheet ice and falling snow. We did however see a beautiful Rodin of three sirens in a gallery that I'd really recommend, the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.

The Sirens by Auguste Rodin at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Tromborg Below 10 Degrees Cream 580DKK, Ilse Jacobsen Rain Boot 850DKK, Designers' Remix Quilted Bomber Jacket 1300DK

Apart from that, we admired the grand city hall, the striking Rundetaarn and the sinuous serpent-tail-spire of the old stock exchange. We spent an evening amid the Christmassy illuminations of the Tivoli gardens, saw adorable animals at the Zoo (baby elephant, baby giraffe and young tapir included) and tried to absorb the vibe of Christiania. The cocktails, Danish pastries and smørrebørd were, without exception, exceptional.

Now, back to topic! Just a stone's throw from charming Nyhavn, is the lovely department store, Magasin du Nord. From the outside, you see a lot of cast iron and carved masonry, and, at the moment, Christmas lights and window displays. Inside, we found a good homeware department - brands like Bodum and Stelton - and beauty department (the usual plus Tromborg, an organic Danish company whose Stratus fragrance and Below 10 Degrees Face Cream were very tempting!)

My favourite emporium however was Illum Bolighus, with its chic entrance - all striped scandi wood and brushed-metal escalators. They deal very much in high design - furniture, lighting, Danish fashion (brands like Ilse Jacobsen and Designer's Remix)

We missed the Design Museum sadly. We thought it would be open on Saturday. However, on our way to the real Zool. Have (i.e. Zoological gardens), we chanced upon Design Zoo - beautiful ceramics, jewellery and Christmas decorations.

We also stepped into Rocket - a high street store selling gifts, homeware and confectionary - cheaply and cheerfully. I believe there's one in Stratford, London, if you want to check it out.

All in all, a perfect weekend of festive tourism and Christmas shopping - I'd advise anyone to go!

(Design Zoo, Vesterbrogade 137)

Sunday, 1 December 2013

I was a bit downcast at the beginning of the week because we hadn't seen a big increase in sales, and when I looked at the history, I really thought there would be one.

I'd studied the increase/decrease in sales per week this year and I'd compared both sales and rate of change in sales to last year.  Everything seemed to point to some good growth – our weekly figures were increasing, we were making ground on last year's sales in bigger and bigger strides and, in 2012, there was a big sales spike over the last few days of November/first few days of December.

I was doubly disappointed because a) the dazzling sales I predicted hadn't materialised and b) I'd been wrong (I don't think anyone's overly fond of being wrong!)

I was planning to look at some more history... when in doubt, more spreadsheets! And, on the Tuesday evening, I undertook a little competitive shopping – it's always good to understand feeling on the high street... Afterwards bought myself a cheer-up book (see below - I didn't ever read Eat Pray Love, I must admit, but this is getting great reviews and it looked like a good escape!)

Then on Wednesday the sales came, yay!

Good Cheer-Up Purchases

Elizabeth Gilbert, The Signature of All Things £12.99; What Delilah Did Libellule Cushion Embroidery Kit £45; Santa Maria Novella Soave Water and Melograno Bath Salts; Rococo Mini Bee Bars (Rose and Orange & Geranium), £1.30