Alexander Edwards is delighted. He has just won his second WOBA – the Blenheim Palace Retail Award, opened his second shop and is planning for a third in 18 months’ time.
He started his business The Cotswold Tailor back in 2010. His original idea came whilst he was at University in Bath and had a couple of suits tailored whilst he was travelling on his gap year. Upon return to the UK he wanted another tailored suit, and it occurred to him that there wasn’t anywhere to get good quality tailoring for under £1,000. London’s Saville Row certainly has the craftmanship but not the pricing so he put together a business plan to open a local Cotswold tailoring business. He took out a student loan and upon graduation set up his business after finding an empty shop in Woodstock. Bit by bit, The Cotswold Tailor was born.
Initially he aimed at the middle market of producing fully tailored suits for £400-£500. But after the recession, he realised the market wasn’t sustainable, so shifted his target to the higher end of the market at £750-£950 per suit. This re-focus was the right decision.
Using the same fabrics as Saville Row, his business produces beautiful made to measure suits in the Cotswolds – without the Saville Row price tag. His customers are mainly from London and find him via his website or through his social media channels, but thanks to the WOBAS, he is building a local client base too.
Alex isn’t a tailor himself, he runs the business using new technologies, but employs traditional tailors who stick to the old school methods of beautiful craftmanship. It’s a winning formula.
The Cotswold Tailor has entered the WOBAS three times and won twice. “It’s a great thing to do” says Alex. “It doesn’t take long to enter. The first time round I struggled a bit, but when I came to entering the second time I just wrote how I felt”
In 2014 The Cotswold Tailor won the ‘Best New Business’ category.
“It was a great feeling to be recognised for what you do. I felt it gave the business prestige and legitimacy.”
He finds the process of entering the WOBAs very positive “It gives you the opportunity to reflect. It makes you look at the business from a different angle and to think through logistically how to get to the next level. It makes you ask questions of yourself and your business and to focus on growth. These are things you don’t necessarily take the time out to do when you are immersed in the day to day running of a business”
When The Cotswold Tailor won ‘Best Retailer’ at the 2015 WOBAS, Alex felt a real sense of pride. “Sitting at the table, I just felt a sense of support. It’s been great PR for us and has really increased our profile locally”
“Our awards are in our two shops in Woodstock and Shipston-on-Stour and a few people have commented on them. They make us feel that the business has been recognised as a legitimate business – one that has legs. I think all businesses in West Oxfordshire should enter the WOBAS. It’s only a good thing!”