The Association of Independent Stores (AIS) has been praised for the transformation of its own label for spring 14, with stockists upping their orders by as much as 100%. AIS debuted its First Avenue Classic and Collection ranges at its Indx womenswear show, which took place from August 7 to 9 in Solihull.
Director of fashion Paula Fowler said the buying group had “seriously updated the product” following a year-long review. Fowler joined AIS last year after a long career at Debenhams. Classic is aimed at the older core customer and Collection has a more contemporary look. Retail prices range from £9.99 for a viscose top to £50 for a printed stretch Lycra dress. Edward Townrow, director of department store Townrow, which has four branches across Essex and Cambridgeshire, said the range had already seen an improvement in the last couple of seasons, but he was doubling his order for spring 14 on the back of the latest changes. “The range has transformed,” he said. “The margins have improved, which is great. It is the bread and butter of what we do.” Elaine Black, director of womenswear retailer Tom Hughes, which has three stores in west Wales, has also increased her spend with the label by “hundreds”. “The range looked great with fantastic prices too,” she said. “It is more than going in the right direction.” In the year to June 30, 2012, AIS had 367 members representing more than 1,000 stores with a combined retail turnover of £2.1bn. The group’s turnover fell 13% in the same year to £21.88m.