With an armful of Drapers Independents Awards, Young Ideas owner Anne Wright recounts how a store in a Derbyshire market town became a beacon of indie retail.

Posted in Uncategorized on March 9th, 2015 by admin – Be the first to comment

Situated within the faded grandeur of a 17th-century coaching inn that dominates the high street in the Derbyshire market town of Ashbourne, it’s easy to see why three-time Drapers Independents Awards winner Young Ideas has become a destination for premium fashion. Owner Anne Wright has steadily grown the business – which includes a second store in Derby – since buying it in 2008, transforming it from one store into a thriving multichannel operator.

Having won the Womenswear Independent and Independent Retailer of the Year categories at the Drapers Independents Awards in 2013 and the Premium Independent Retailer trophy in 2014, you would think Wright would be taking a moment to enjoy her success. But think again.

Instead, last month she bought women’s sportsbra and sportswear etailer Boobydoo for an undisclosed sum. The business, whose products range from £6.99 for Lock Laces elastic shoe laces to £70 for an Urban Gym full- zip hoodie, has a small but promising turnover of £500,000 per year. Its head office will move at the end of March from High Wycombe to a vacant unit in the Ashbourne building, with a view to later adding a retail element or stocking the brand within the Young Ideas store. Boobydoo’s digital marketeer will move across and the two owners, Richard and Carol Cottrell, are leaving following the sale.

“It has a synergy with our business in that it is complementary. It has a critical mass, a reasonable scale, and the skills within that business can help to support and develop our online business [by working across both],” explains Wright, who is dressed in a pair of black Diane von Furstenberg trousers and a white Boss Black shirt.

Anne Wright Owner at Young Ideas

With an armful of Drapers Independents Awards, Young Ideas owner Anne Wright recounts how a store in a Derbyshire market town became a beacon of indie retail.

Explaining the reasoning behind the purchase, she says: “Online only accounts for about 10% to 15% of our turnover, but it has become very important as a marketing tool for our bricks-and-mortar business as a 24/7 shop window and footfall driver. But it is expensive to maintain, because as a boutique fashion business the way we buy – forward order and wide but shallow across a number of brands – is the opposite of what you need for online where you need to buy a more concise edit in greater depth.”

Young Ideas has a web team of three – an online manager, an assistant online manager and a marketing executive – but Wright would like to develop this further, and hopes that for now the Boobydoo acquisition will allow her to do that.

“The expertise needed for running an ecommerce business is different to bricks-and-mortar, there are specialist skills. We need scale to be able to support that resource,” she says.

The Boobydoo team will be headed by Wright’s daughter Charlotte, who has worked at Young Ideas across all areas of the business but at present works for the etailer in High Wycombe.

This all follows some serious investment in Young Ideas. When the 25-year lease came up for renewal on their old Ashbourne store at 23 St John Street, Wright and her husband Colin decided they wanted a freehold. Having struggled to find suitable properties in the town, they decided to buy the former coaching inn in December 2012, which had closed down as a pub two years before during the economic downturn. She declines to reveal how much she bought it for, but says: “We felt there was potential to convert part of the premises into retail for Young Ideas and for it to become a lifestyle destination.”

The business reopened with a 2,500 sq ft shop within the development in October 2013 at 10 St John Street, just 150 yards from Young Ideas’ previous location. The larger space allowed for menswear to be introduced – with brands including Boss Orange, John Smedley and Paul Smith’s London, Jeans, footwear and accessories ranges.

Since opening Wright has innovatively used the space. Last year, for example, one of the premises’ two courtyards was used to host a pop-up cafe serving drinks and tapas to shoppers looking to rest their feet, while inside there is an exhibition space at the top of a staircase for local artists, bathed in light via an atrium, and a boudoir-like personal shopping room located just off the passageway.

Her vision doesn’t stop here. Work has already begun on a gastro pub inside the coaching inn, and this will be followed by a cafe, brasserie and 13 boutique hotel rooms. Asked what the timeframe is for the development, she replies: “If you ask my husband Colin he’ll tell you 18 months,” but she laughs as she adds: “I think it’s more like three years.”

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The site also includes a second courtyard with two retail units, which Wright initially planned to let out but has since decided to use to expand her own business. She opened a 300 sq ft dedicated Lexington store in one of the two vacant units, in which customers can shop the brand’s New England-inspired lifestyle offer of womenswear and homeware, alongside Crew Clothing, Joules, Riani and Gardeur. Showing me into the unit she explains that “we just felt this was really right for our customer and sits well with our current offer”.

Next door, a 850 sq ft unit will house the relocated Boobydoo. Despite her achievements, Wright didn’t start out in fashion. Raised in South Yorkshire by her structural engineer father and local government housing officer mother, she graduated with a BA (Hons) in French and Politics from Bradford University in 1984. Although she was accepted onto the Marks & Spencergraduate training scheme with ambitions to work in fashion she admits she “got sidetracked and tempted into the food industry”, where she worked in chilled food for 25 years.

She joined supermarket own-label manufacturer Hazelwood Foods, which later became Greencore, as a management trainee in 1984, working across all parts of the company. “It was a question of whether I wanted to be a big fish in a small pond, or a small fish in a big pond. Hazelwood was a smaller pond but it was a really fast-growing company and very ambitious in the 1980s, so I saw the opportunity to develop my career at a quicker pace there.”

The gamble paid off and within seven years she had risen to general manager of subsidiary business Hazelwood Desserts, which makes chilled puddings forSainsbury’s. In 1993, following the birth of her daughter Charlotte, she rose to managing director of another subsidiary firm, chilled sandwich business Derbyshire Chilled Foods.

She left Greencore in 2004, at which point she was chief executive of its chilled foods division, overseeing a turnover of £400m and a staff of around 2,000, to become chief operations officer at chilled food business Adelie, which was backed by private equity firm Duke Street Capital.

Her husband also worked for Greencore and her decision to leave was in part influenced by the fact they would soon be competing for any further promotion. So they decided she would stay in corporate life and that he would lead an MBO of some of Greencore’s non-core activities – meats and sausages, which he then renamed Tranfield.
“He was in a position a few years later where he could sell out [in 2007] and that gave us choices. My work for Adelie was predominantly based in the London area and my daughters – Charlotte, now 21, and Harriet, now 17 – were young at the time, so I wanted a lifestyle change. We had lived in Ashbourne for about eight years and I had been a customer of Young Ideas and had great admiration for the business.”

In 2008 she approached then owner Dorothy Thomas, who had founded the business in 1965 and was then in her 70s, about buying the store and got a positive response, though she declines to reveal how much she paid.
Thomas agreed to run it for a further six months while Wright finished her duties at Adelie, at which point she “fully immersed” herself in the business for the first year to build knowledge and contacts and to learn about suppliers.

“We felt there were opportunities to develop the core business, and at the time ecommerce was growing and we felt we needed to have a presence online. So one of the first things we did on the growth path was establish a website in 2009, then relaunched it in 2011 to better integrate our store and online sales systems.”

The next step was to expand the bricks-and-mortar business, opening a 1,000 sq ft store in Derby in March 2011, with the benefit of lower overheads during the recession and by recruiting the staff from independents that had closed down in the city. The two stores feature a different but complementary edit, with shared brands such as MaxMara Weekend, and brands unique to each store, such as Marc Cain in Derby and Moschino Cheap & Chic and Armani Collezioni in Ashbourne. The customer profile doesn’t differ between the two – the aim is to offer something for all ages.

Today the business employs 22 staff, a combination of full- and part-time, with Ashbourne acting as the head office. Bestselling womenswear brands include MaxMara Weekend, Boss Black and Michael Kors, and for men it is Boss Orange and Belstaff, while Paul Smith does well across both. Overall prices range from £35 to £60 for a piece of costume jewellery or T-shirt up to £1,500 for a luxury outerwear item.

Wright admits she tends to do her buying in showrooms, instead of visiting trade shows. For autumn, Young Ideas has consolidated the number of brands it stocks, although Wright is too polite to reveal by how many or which brands have been dropped. Now, she says the retailer is focusing its efforts on brands such as Paul Smith, MaxMara Weekend and popular new brands including Fabiana Filippi and Stills.

Speak to the agents and distributors that supply Young Ideas, and they are full of praise for Wright’s eye for product. London-based womenswear agency M&L Harris sells French contemporary label Equipment and has worked with the store for 25 years. Its owner, Liliane Harris, says: “Anne and her team are always scouting for the next ‘It’ collection and are constantly updating their brand portfolio, which has made her store a huge success.”

Anais Wosnitza, senior sales manager at Lucy Wernick Fashion Agency, which distributes cashmere brand 360Sweater, agrees: “Anne knows what she likes. She is open to bestsellers but has such a good eye she picks them out herself anyway, and she is really professional.”

Trading is strong and, while Wright is reluctant to reveal turnover or profit figures for the business, which is split 75% women’s and 25% men’s in Ashbourne, she does say turnover is up 15% year on year. “We are having a good year and had our best Christmas ever. In December we had one week [the second week] where we were up 40% and we finished the month up 25% year on year.”

One of the central components of Young Ideas’ success is its database of 6,000 customers, which Wright describes as “our most powerful marketing tool”, adding that two product e-shots are sent out each week, with strong results from both.

When I ask what sets her apart from the competition, which she says are the likes of etailers Net-A-Porter and Matchesfashion.com and stores in London, Manchester and Birmingham, Wright pauses before replying: “A great edit that is tailored to your market, customer service, and thirdly, our drive and ambition – we want to go places.”

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With an armful of Drapers Independents Awards, Young Ideas owner Anne Wright recounts how a store in a Derbyshire market town became a beacon of indie retail.

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Pure London Best of British Independent Retail Awards 2015

Posted in Event, News on February 10th, 2015 by admin – Be the first to comment

Pure London has announced the winners of its inaugural Best of British Independent Retail Awards; an awards ceremony presented with Fashion Association of Britain to recognise and celebrate the contributions of the finest UK independent retailers to the fashion and footwear retail industry.

Pure London is proud to reveal the companies who have won the Pure London Best of British Independent Retail Awards 2015.

Winners were revealed in a special awards presentation hosted by the show’s award-winning Portfolio Director, Julie Driscoll accompanied by Melissa Wheeler, representing the Fashion Association of Great Britain at the Pure London Womenswear catwalk.

Melissa Wheeler, Retail Columnist at FAB, commented; “The Best of British Independent Retailer Awards process has been very revealing to us at FAB as a barometer of the current mood within the independent sector. There is certainly a great sense of excitement and gratitude from independent retailers about this event and a healthy demand for this niche group to be supported and applauded within the industry.”

Julie Driscoll, Portfolio Director for Pure London at i2i Events Group, added; “Nearly 80% of our audience at Pure London are independent retailers and boutiques, so we are thrilled to have launched these awards to celebrate their successes as a major driving force behind the fashion and footwear retail industry. Congratulations tour winners and everyone who made the shortlist.”

We are happy to announce that Young Ideas won the Pure London Best of British Independent for the Midlands!

Pure London Midlands

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Christmas Market at The Greenman, Ashbourne

Posted in Event on December 2nd, 2014 by admin – Be the first to comment
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Christmas Market & Santa at the Greenman

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Tribute to the late Dowager Duchess of Devonshire

Posted in News on October 3rd, 2014 by Frances Jesson – Comments Off

A truly remarkable woman

Captured at Chatsworth with her granddaughter Stella Tennant by photographer Mario Testino.Vogue, 2014

Last week brought us the sad news of ‘Debo’ Deborah Cavendish – the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire – passing away at the age of 94.

A privileged woman from a high society home, she was the youngest of the notorious Mitford sisters, who were never far from the public eye.  Entertaining the company of Adolf Hitler, eloping with cousins, and wedding fascist leaders, were just a few of the things that made the sisters legendary; they were faced with public outrage throughout their younger years.

The Duchess at a memorial service for couturier Hardy Amies in London.  Deborah Mitford at Lord Redesdale's House. Photo by Getty: 1940

Perhaps the quietest sister of the six, Deborah married Andrew Cavendish in 1941. In 1959 the couple inherited Chatsworth House in Derbyshire.

Swathed in debt, the 175-roomed manor and additional 105 acres of land would be a momentous challenge for anyone to manage.  Driven by a passion for the rural lifestyle and the understanding that such a beautiful building shouldn’t simply go to waste, Deborah dedicated her life to returning Chatsworth to its former glory, and opened its rooms and the grounds to the public. Her hard work and dedication made her known as the ‘housewife Duchesse’.

With the success of Chatsworth and its farm shop, her life achievements will be remembered, and she will continue to entertain us all with her series of books about the property, and the memoirs of her remarkable life.

The Duchess in the Chatsworth Grounds. Photo by Hugh Stewart:2003 The Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, with a lanner falcon, at their Derbyshire home, Chatsworth. Photo by PA:1975

A woman who is remembered by many as ‘witty’, ‘enchanting’ and ‘honest’, was also a great friend to Prince Charles, who said:  “My wife and I were deeply saddened to learn of the death of the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, whom both of us adored and admired greatly.  The joy, pleasure and amusement she gave to so many, particularly through her books, as well as the contribution she made to Derbyshire throughout her time at Chatsworth, will not easily be forgotten and we shall miss her so very much.”

Watching the Royal Highland Games from the Royal Tent with Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall. Photo by PA:2002

Not only a lifestyle icon, she was also greatly admired for her fashion sense; she forged a lifelong friendship with Hubert de Givency, and often invited powerhouses of fashion such as Oscar de la Renta and Valentino as guests to Chatsworth.  Model Stella Tennant is her granddaughter, and Mario Testino pictured them together at Chatsworth for a photoshoot featured in Vogue.

Vogue Photoshoot, 2003.Shot by Hugh Stewart for Vogue.

As Derbyshire women ourselves, we have been inspired by how she made fashion and rural life look effortless together – reminding us that we can walk the dogs, run a business, or even feed the chickens whilst still looking our very best in what we wear.

If you want to create your perfect wardrobe for the rural Derbyshire lifestyle, or want to revamp your city chic look, and expect the highest level of personal service, you can shop with us in store or 24/7 online.

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Winner – Drapers Premium Fashion Independent of the Year 2014

Posted in News on September 18th, 2014 by admin – Be the first to comment
Drapers Premium Fashion Independent of the Year 2014 Young Ideas

Winners of the Drapers Premium Fashion Independent of the Year 2014

Young Ideas are celebrating this week after receiving the prestigious ‘Premium Fashion Independent of the Year’ award at the esteemed Drapers Independents Awards Ceremony.  This accolade recognises and celebrates innovation and talent within the independent fashion retail sector and highlights the ‘best of the best within the fashion retail community’ selected by industry experts.

The delighted Young Ideas team collected their award at a glittering grand final event at The Brewery in London on Wednesday 17 September having been shortlisted in three dynamic categories to also include ‘Best Independent Multichannel Operator’ and ‘Best Store Design’.

After undertaking a rigorous judging process, which included a visit to the flagship store in Ashbourne by the Drapers judges’ team and completion of an extensive entry portfolio submission Young Ideas triumphed over tough competition. The contenders included 70 shortlisted independent retailers, brands and agencies all coveting the awards.

“We are thrilled to accept this award”, Anne Wright (owner) commented “winning an award for the second year running from Drapers was totally unexpected and it is such an honour to receive. The team are particularly proud to receive recognition in this way and it is a real credit to their hard work over the last 12 months.”

At last year’s awards Young Ideas won both ‘Womenswear Independent of the Year’ and ‘Independent Retailer of the Year’ and the team firmly believe this brought benefits. Anne advised, ‘’The win raised our profile in the national and international fashion industry strengthening our reputation and raising our profile. The awards are renowned for celebrating excellence across the independent sector and it is good to see that Young Ideas is hitting the mark. We are very thankful to Drapers for recognising our business and this really endorses what we have achieved to date but also reinforces our future vision for the business.’’

In terms of the future, Young Ideas have exciting plans lined up for this season and will shortly be announcing the launch of a new luxurious personal shopping and at home wardrobe service, Fashion Concierge.  The team are putting finishing touches to this new concept and of course are aiming high in the hope that this too can achieve awards next year!

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Drapers Independent Awards 2014

Posted in Event on September 16th, 2014 by admin – Be the first to comment
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Drapers Awards

Tomorrow we will be heading off to the Drapers Awards – we are up for three categories Drapers Best Independent Multichannel Operator, Drapers Best Store Design & Drapers Premium Fashion Independent of the Year – we are so excited and a flurry of outfits have been chosen!!!! We are looking forward to a great day! #drapersindies Both the Ashbourne store & Derby store will still be open!

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Winter Coat – Style Event – Young Ideas Derby Store

Posted in Event on September 10th, 2014 by admin – Be the first to comment
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Select your winter coat at our Derby store event on September 10

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The Launch of Pop-Up Cafe Union Street Food!

Posted in Event, News on June 18th, 2014 by admin – Be the first to comment
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Delicious food & great coffee

The launch of the pop-up cafe was a great success on Saturday. Delicious food & great coffee, do call in and see us through the summer!

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Union Street Pop Up Cafe next to Young Ideas

Posted in Uncategorized on June 11th, 2014 by admin – Be the first to comment
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Enjoy a Spanish / Italian lunch at Union Steet in the court yard of Young Ideas

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Retail Business of the Year Finalists! Derby Telegraph Business Awards

Posted in News on May 21st, 2014 by admin – Be the first to comment

Finalist

We are delighted to announce that Young Ideas been shortlisted in the ‘Retail Business of the Year’ category at the 2014 Derby Telegraph Business Awards.

Celebrating the very best of the Derbyshire’s businesses, the Derby Telegraph Business Awards have been launched to promote and recognise thriving companies across a range of sectors.

After a demanding entry process, Young Ideas is one of three companies shortlisted in the ‘Retail Business of the Year’ category.  Judged by an esteemed panel from sponsors Quantum Estates Management, the award aims to reward a retail business that has achieved measurable results while continuing to build upon a reputation for retail excellence. The contribution the winning business has made to the economic stability of the county has also been considered with the eventual winner representing one of Derbyshire’s finest retail businesses.

After celebrating at the Finalists and Sponsors Champagne and Canapés evening at the Cathedral Quarter Hotel, the Young Ideas team will now head to The Roundhouse where the winners will be announced by hosts Anne Davies, presenter of BBC East Midlands, and popular media personality, Paul Ross, during a glittering black tie awards ceremony on Wednesday 18 June 2014.

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