The company will be calling time on business at the end of the year – but brides will not be let down, and UK stockists are set to receive refunds on any 2019 Collection sample dresses that arrived in the UK last month
Christine Marchant, the long-time agent/distributor for Augusta Jones, alerted us to the sad news that Augusta Jones will be closing down at the end of this year.
You can read below the heartfelt letter that Charlotte Leung, Founder and Managing Director of Augusta Jones, has written to those stores who will feel the impact of this:
To all our great stores,
Thank you for your valued business over the past 20 years. It has been an incredible journey to have built a small business, doing the things we love, around super talented people and a group of the most amazing stores. We were so lucky to get our start and find our feet when bridal was still a cottage industry.
However, times have changed and we have had the most challenging of years. I have been dreading this day, but we have got to face our current situation realistically and head on. After much hand-wringing, endless discussions and wishing for things to change, we have decided to close our business at the end of this year.
The retail industry has evolved in ways one could not have imagined. The sheer volume of reasonably priced goods to be found via the internet, with fast shipping and generous return policies, has changed the face of shopping for the foreseeable future.
This is true too for our bridal industry. There are plenty of headwinds. Stores tell us that it is harder to close on sales and foot traffic is down. Many have explained sales figures are not justifying the purchase of new samples so have opted for fewer or no new samples from us. However, the direct result for us when new collections are not taken on board in a meaningful way, is that we instantly lose our key ability to get repeats, which is our core business. Without the repeats, there is no business. While our repeats have been good for stores who took our bestsellers, we can’t survive with so few stores supporting the collection as a whole.
Brides are far more price conscious and have far more options. Our investment into the people who work directly for us and the running of a fully equipped factory, can no longer be supported nor sustained with ever dwindling returns. Falling exchange rates for Pound Sterling and the Australian Dollar add to the challenge. Our business model no longer works as well in this dynamic and changing environment.
The final decision, however, was made for us this weekend. The latest news is that Trump’s administration will be applying 25% tariffs to ALL goods made in China. This means that all goods will cost 25% more when they enter the US. Based on this, we have come to the very real and obvious conclusion that the business environment, as we know it, no longer works for us as a small business. We cannot continue to hire staff, rent factory space, and invest and upgrade in equipment, in China, with this hanging over us. The reality of US tariffs as high as 25% would cripple us. As a small business, we haven’t the resources yet alone margins, to weather such a blow. We simply have no choice but to bow out before we sign our new contracts with landlords and renew staff contracts. This was the final blow that decided it all.
A contingent of US based Bridal companies (led by owner Mon Cheri, Steve Lang, President of the American Bridal and Prom Industry) went to Washington recently to explain how important China is to the Bridal industry and to try to talk down tariffs as doing more harm than good to small businesses.
Please read the full article here http://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2018/08/23/tariffs-bridal-shop-owner-china
After informing our agents of our intentions this week, we have made solid plans now to ensure a smooth winding down. We will have just under 4 months left to complete and ship all outstanding orders. We can take new standard orders until the middle of October, for delivery in November. We will push all our orders up so most will be shipped by the end of October. Our agents will have further information for you on the details and time lines as well as revised payment terms of your goods. We will start shifting deliveries earlier so you have time to work on fittings with your brides.
This has been a tough and emotional decision, taken after painstaking consideration. We want to thank you again for your amazing support over the years. It has been a privilege working with such a professional and dedicated group of peers. We have had a great run, but times are changing and now it seems, so must we.
All the best,
Charlotte Leung | Founder & Managing Director | Augusta Jones Ltd