The founder of Fat Buddha answers the questions
Having got fed up traveling to England to get his hands on the clothes and books he wanted Leslie Docherty decided to do something about it. So in 2006 he set up Fat Buddha in Glasgow to cater to the streetwear market. Five years later there is a second store in the city and an online shop at www.iconsume.co.uk. Here Docherty tells us about the growth.
What do you do?
I select the product range we sell in both stores and make sure our websites have the relevant product range available online. I train and develop the team and try to make the shopping experience as pleasurable as possible and hopefully make some money in the process.
Where did the funding come from and which organizations have supported the business? We have been self-funded through directors' loans. Our bank has been pretty unhelpful, they seem to be most interested in selling me insurance, key man cover and other associated services to make themselves money, but when it comes to helping us out, they aren't the best.
Who are the key people in the business?
Myself, my sister Gillian, who manages the accounts and makes sure our suppliers get paid, and my wife Siobhan, who helps balance the two of us when we argue over the buying.
What is unique about what the company does?
We bring together all areas of popular culture fashion, footwear, books, vinyl toys and art supplies presenting the best brands from around the world all under the one roof.
What has been the single biggest investment?
The time and cost of opening the new store has been a major investment this year. The store came in on budget, but we had to be very creative in the fit-out to achieve the look we have with the limited budget we had. Ultimately, we've invested around £75,000 in it.
Has there been a key moment or turning point?
A new competitor recently opened a large store on nearby Buchanan Street which made me look at where we were and where we weren't going; the gaps in our brand offering and ask myself why we couldn't open a bigger store. Now 15 months later we have the bigger store.
What is the business plan and how does the company intend to grow?
We plan to pay off our borrowing over the next two years, launch a new website next year and, in three years, open a third store in Glasgow. We are going to continue growing at the same organic pace and do everything through self funding.
How does the company use technology and IT?
Trading online, we are dependent to an extent on technology. Online sales represent a significant percentage of our turnover.
Who are your key customers/what are your key markets?
Our typical customer is over 25 years old and works in an office nearby. He likes good clothing and appreciates that some of the better brands cost more. Our key market is niche brands and trading them well online.
Does the company have international sales or does it intend to grow internationally? With the pound being so weak at present, we do quite well internationally online, but as for expansion, all our growth will be in Glasgow. We have no intention of opening up outside this fair city.
What has been the best achievement so far?Opening the doors on the new store, which enables us to sell from 2,000 sq ft over three floors. The feeling of pride from opening a store that customers are enjoying so much, getting featured on the style blogs that always shunned us in the past is a good feeling as was getting the store open on time and within budget.
What will the next 12 months hold?
Consolidation. I aim to establish the new store and website, build a wider customer base and nail our brand list down whilst growing it with some key additions.
Where do you want the business to be in 10 years time?
If you were given £1 million to invest in the company how would you use it?
Develop the online side of it, improve our electronic point of sale system and multi channel both our sites.
What's the best part of running a business?
Having control over all aspects of it, from buying stock in a showroom in London, to six months later seeing it going into someones shopping bag, or worse, seeing it hanging around on the sale rail. Luckily, our buying track record is good.