Monday, February 22, 2021

AFTER 16 years in Tramore, Redlane Boutique is to close its doors to the bricks and mortar shop, and take all trade online. It was 2008 before the concept of shopping online was adopted by Catherine Keighery, owner of Redlane, making her the first independent fashion retailer in Ireland to launch a shopping online experience. This decision was to prove fruitful, particular during the past year when doors remained shut.

Catherine Keighery, a Tramore native, said “It was extremely hard to close the doors of Redlane Boutique last March and to remain completely closed for the best part of a year now. I am grateful for the fact that was already established and we were able to move our focus entirely to online sales and for the support, we’ve received from our customers. However, social distancing restrictions, rules, complying with health-and-safety regulations and the complete elimination of the joy of experiential shopping for the customer has seen the rulebook of retail completely re-written almost overnight.”

Influencing Catherine’s decision was the difficulty and uncertainty regarding re-opening, but also the positive trends which have emerged around online shopping. Studies show that those who have never shopped online before, are now doing so, and the sector continues to grow, with 159% of an increased reported in 2020.

The “wait and see” mode as currently being observed around most sectors puts retailers in a precarious situation because re-opening is costly and involves extensive planning. Furthermore, Catherine is not confident that consumers will ever fully return to the in-house shopping experience, meaning re-opening for many will be a leap-of-faith with no guarantees.

“Unfortunately, with continual ‘High Street’ overheads and restriction uncertainty, retailers simply cannot afford to be in a ‘wait-and-see mode’. So for those reasons I have decided to continue to focus on maintaining and growing the business online.” said Catherine.

Having maintained a colourful and fashionable presence at The Cross between Main Street and Queen Street for many years, the departure of the shop will be a blow to the area, both commercially and aesthetically. However, Catherine intends to fulfill website orders from a central location in Tramore and to eventually grow the business.

“I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to run a business in such a beautiful building in my hometown with an exceptional team for the past 16 years. The walls of Redlane have been filled with fun and friendship (as well as a lot of hard work and many a meltdown!) and it is an era that will stay in the hearts of many for years to come, and for all that I’m eternally grateful. It’s the end of an era and it’s sad but we have to move with the times and transition our business online for it to weather the storm.”

Catherine moved to reassure customers that nothing will change in terms of gift vouchers and credit notes, they will remain valid.

“I would also like to encourage everyone who is shopping online to try to buy Irish. Even if it’s not from please support Irish businesses and Irish retailers, the more money that stays in the country the sooner we can get out of this mess. There are a lot of people out of work at the moment and we need to put everything we can back into our communities as much as is possible.”

On social media, the reaction to the announcement has been hugely supportive, with the view across the board being “we will miss your fabulous window and enticing designs. Your bright cheery shop will be missed. I always got good advice when I popped in.” However, the move has been cited by members of the public as being innovative in times of uncertainty.

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