FEW could argue that it’s been a good year for retailers. The impact of the COVID-19 lockdown is having a disastrous effect on an already struggling high street.
As consumers retreated indoors, independent shops across the country that had already been feeling the strain were put under even more pressure and faced a fight for survival.
But despite this, there are stories of hope to be found. Stories of businesses that were able to adapt and change tact successfully even during the paralysis of the pandemic.
Gibbs Menswear, an independent menswear and highland wear store in Inverurie is one such example.
Located on Market Place in the town centre, run by husband and wife Barry and Janice Gibb, the shop specialises in providing quality menswear and highland wear, as well as bespoke tailoring and made-to-measure services.
Adding to the challenges that the pandemic brought for most retailers, Gibbs also ran a very successful kilt rental service and as a result of COVID, completely lost this part of the business overnight, as weddings were postponed, and functions were cancelled.
However, Gibbs had an ace up their tailor-fitted sleeves. Long before anyone had ever heard of the Coronavirus, they had been building their online presence and making use of an ecommerce site to sell their clothing to a nationwide audience.
This foresight was now paying dividends and although their kilt hire service was struggling, their ability to sell online to an audience of shoppers confined to their homes, afforded them a great advantage.
In addition to this, they were able to quickly respond to gaps in the market, reallocate resources to these gaps, and sell the product online. For example, once their store had re-opened, they reassigned their seamstress’s tasks away from preparing kilt rentals, and into creating their Mitchell Scott face masks and coverings.
These masks, which offer not only a safe, but stylish way to comply with government guidelines, feature a variety of different tartans, and have become a popular staple on Gibb’s social media and website.
Now, as the lockdown is gradually easing and life is slowly but surely returning to normal, Gibbs have a strategy in place aimed at keeping customers safe while in their store.
They have already implemented an appointment system on their website, meaning that they are once again able to offer their Kilt Hire and Made-To-Measure service to customers across the North-East.
The first step in the made-to-measure process is a consultation with the customer, which can now be booked in advance, via the Gibbs website, and can even be carried out via video call if the customer is unable to travel to the shop.
Their made-to-measure service is a point of particular pride with Gibbs, as they are able to offer customers a totally custom-made outfit that is unique to them, from the lining to the style of buttons.
Barry said, “Gibbs are all about that personal touch, taking the time to understand what the customer wants, and being able to advise them on the latest styles. It’s a great feeling when we are able to use our expertise to provide exactly what the customer is looking for and help them achieve their perfect look”
“Whether that’s through a video call or instore, the consultation process is absolutely vital as it allows us to fully understand what the customer is looking for. We are delighted to be able to make that happen once again.”
“The last few months have been extremely challenging for us as a business, but I am proud of the way we have been able to adapt and survive. “
“Our face coverings that we now offer in a variety of different tartans, has been an incredible success and have been embraced by many of our customers near and far.”
“Looking forward, we are excited to have more and more customers return to our shop for both our menswear, and highland wear. Whether you are looking for Formal Attire or just a smart pair of chinos teamed with our Mitchell Scott knitwear, we are here to give that quality alongside top class service.”
“As well as currently stocking ranges by Eterna and Meyer, alongside our own Mitchell Scott range we will be re-introducing a collection from well-known German brand Brax for the Autumn/Winter season.”
While the future may remain uncertain for many retailers, Barry is confident about the resilience of his business in the face of adversity.
“There will always be a place for retailers that stock quality products and go the extra mile to deliver a great experience for the customer.”
“A bespoke suit, that helps you look your very best is ultimately timeless, and will always be in demand. We are excited for the future of Gibbs Menswear. “
Visit Gibbs Menswear on Market Place in Inverurie or visit their website at https://www.gibbsmenswear.co.uk/ to make an appointment or book a video call.