Does everything feel back to normal for you yet? I know that a lot of us are asking that very question as we start living a hybrid Covid/No Covid existence. In many places in the UK and indeed around the world, Covid is still causing huge disruption, but there are also areas that are getting back to normal. With that in mind, I wanted to share a little insight into what is happening at Herring as we come back from a state of enforced quiet to full speed ahead.
Firstly, thank you to all our customers for keeping us going over the pandemic period so far. We have had huge support from our loyal base and that has kept our heads above water, enabling us to maintain our high standards of customer care and not have to make anyone redundant. As a family-based business, we really do care about everyone who works here and getting through the worst times with everyone well and in work is really important – and largely thanks to you, our customers.
I should also address the elephant in the room…Brexit. I know you will have heard very different things about the impact of the changes but, regardless of the politics, we have been able to continue selling to our European friends uninterrupted. There are extra costs for us as a business, but we have largely contained any increases for our customers by working hard with DHL to make sure all taxes and duties are collected up-front and dealt with seamlessly. So, if you are in the EU and have hesitated to order, please do be reassured that it is business as usual.
On a related theme, you will have heard a lot about stock shortages recently. I am happy to report that the Herring brand is well stocked, so we will be able to send you some amazing shoes whenever you need them. This is because we were able to keep ordering throughout lockdown to support the factories that we work with in the UK, EU and further afield. However, there are some shortages from other brands that we stock. There have been manufacturing issues and those have been exacerbated by supply and delivery issues, so some styles will sell out this autumn. We are doing all we can to get shoes through, but in some cases, we are not expecting delivery until 2022! If in doubt, buy Herring, as it is always on the shelf.
So, to answer the question I asked at the beginning, does it feel like everything is back to normal for us? Well, not yet, but there are some very encouraging signs that we are on a strong path to recovery. For example, our best-selling shoes every year are classic toe-cap Oxfords such as the Knightsbridge and Mayfair, but they disappeared from our sales charts when offices closed. Since late October, we have seen a strong resurgence in demand which suggests that more of us are getting back to work in more formal environments.
On top of that, we are also seeing far more sales and enquiries around weddings. Our new wedding planning package has proved very popular, and we are enjoying a definite boost in sales around some of our formal themed shoes that have a bit of a twist.
There are clear signs that more and more of us are resuming our previous habits and planning for a more predictable and traditional future. That must be good news for all of us as we look to get back to where we were but also as we learn to adapt to some of the changes that have created our new version of normal. As a company that is rooted deeply in the past, we have been tested to embrace new challenges in the past year and a half. So far, we have been successful, and I look forward to moving towards that new normal with all of you.
I hope this little bit of real-life context around the way we are all coming out of the pandemic at Herring is useful. If you have any feedback for us, including suggestions for improvements, then we are always happy to hear from you.