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February 25, 2011

Small retailers should “cash in” on Royal Wedding opportunities

Small retailers should prepare now to “cash in” on the opportunities offered by the Royal Wedding in April – that’s the advice from marketing experts, writes Kate Horstead.

Retail analysts Verdict estimate that the Royal Wedding on 29 April will generate as much as £620 million for the UK retail sector. Flourish Studios founder, Fiona Humberstone, said consumer-facing firms stood to benefit the most.

“There’s a little bit of snobbery about the concept of ‘cashing in’, but there are big opportunities for small retailers,” said Humberstone. “Small firms should see if there is any way they can create an offering that taps into the theme – for example, craft company Baker Ross is doing children’s hats, and I know a designer who is creating special napkins.

“You really can’t start planning too soon,” she added. “You could blog about it on your website to market it ahead of the event.”

Small-business owner Harpreet Baura, founder of cupcake supplier Crumbs Couture, has already launched a “Rule Britannia” range of cupcakes.

“We decided to boost our sales by doing something to tap into the Royal Wedding,” she said. “The most popular one has a Union Jack on the top. It ties in with our brand, with our signature edible glitter, but we decided to adapt it to incorporate all things British. We exhibited at the Wedding Show and they’ve proved popular. We’ve had lots of orders and media coverage.”

Retail researchers have predicted that the Royal Wedding will boost sales in food and groceries, travel and tourism, and engagement and wedding-related merchandise.

However, finance group Business Cash Advance claimed that many small firms seeking short-term finance to stock up on Royal Wedding gifts and memorabilia are being turned down by their banks. “In general banks will not lend for stock purchases so retailers and the hospitality industry could be the losers,” said Business Cash Advance director, Richard Morley.

But British Bankers’ Association head of retail banking, Paul Ross, said that “the door is open” for viable firms.

“These claims are absolutely not true,” he said. “The banks have made a commitment to the Government, through Project Merlin, to meet lending targets. There was obviously a point during the recession that firms quite sensibly took the decision to run down their stock to pay back their debts, but now we’re on an upward curve so they will restock. If the business proposition stacks up and there’s a viable plan, then the banks will by all means lend to them.”