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Cleethorpes clothing store Tilletts at the forefront of fashion

On the surface, Tilletts clothing store in Cleethorpes' Sea View Street looks like any other, but inside, it is a veritable hive of activity. Emma Mathias pops in for a look around …

Cleethorpes clothing store Tilletts at the forefront of fashion

A FAMILY-run business, Tilletts has for many years been the go-to place for women aged 35 plus, selling a whole range of casual tops, dresses, trousers, accessories, shoes and much more.

With the flagship store in a prime Cleethorpes spot, the family opened a branch of the business in Louth two years ago. And with many of the clothes one size only, eliminating the need to mess about with sizes and things that don't fit, there is little wonder that Tilletts continues to go from strength to strength.

The immediate point that strikes you as you go behind the scenes of the business is the professionalism of not only the family, but the many staff working at the shops. Started by Melanie Tillett ten years ago, and since joined by daughters Grace and Nancy, a professional approach is something that the whole of "Team Tillett" is passionate about.

Melanie said: "The impression we give is very important and we are careful to market things properly. We are selling a lot on our website, as well as in the shops, and our packaging and attention to detail is, in many ways, just as important as the product.

"We employ 12 local people and have brought in two models, a communications specialist, a graphic designer and a business coach; these are also local people. The business coach we brought in to help create our plan for the next five years and we have a planning meeting every 90 days to ensure we are still on track.

"Our aim is to be the go-to fashion retailer for middle age customers and it would be nice to expand nationally, although we are taking things one step at a time."

"Fast fashion" are the buzz words at Tilletts, which, if you haven't heard of it, is the buying of stock on an almost weekly basis in order to keep things fresh and to provide the customer with items of use at that time. For example, the start of the spring wasn't a particularly warm one and when temperatures dropped to one degree celsius several nights in a row, during April, it was almost impossible to find any warm clothing for sale on the high street. The fast fashion ethos at Tilletts means that customers are able to still buy things relevant to the weather and, of course, what is fashionable at the time.

Melanie said: "We used to buy things way ahead and we found that this didn't work nearly as well as our more recent methods. We can shift stock much more quickly and this also means that customers can pop in most weeks and find something entirely new has arrived.

"In the past, we bought in brands such as Superdry, but then we found that we were up against them when they put things on sale on their website! One of the brands we continue to sell, though, is Sloppy Joe. We have sold the product since we first opened.

"We have also started designing our own clothes, which we have made in a factory in Leicester. This is something we hope to expand upon in the future. We have some fabulous shoes made in Spain, which have soles made from recycled car tyres and, as you can imagine, they are very hard wearing!"

Initially running the shop by herself, Melanie was later joined by daughter Grace, who had spent several years gaining experience from working with other local retailers. The same happened with younger daughter Nancy, who is a more recent addition to the ever-expanding team. Grace is now responsible for finance and marketing while Nancy has taken on the task of the website and logistics. The three women are all directors in the business, essentially putting them on an equal footing.

Taking the inner workings of Tilletts to one side for a moment, at the core of it all is the whole team's dedication to customer service.

Grace said: "We try to keep on top of what our customers want and to source things we know people will love. Some people come in to see us for a chat, and have a browse around while they are there – it is a real community and many customers we consider to be friends.

"And we are honest. We won't tell someone they look fabulous in something if they don't and will do our best to ensure they walk away happy with their purchase by helping them to find something that is just right.

"We are also dog friendly and have a water bowl so they can have a drink!"

It is more than conceivable that Tilletts' business plan will come to fruition, with everyone working hard to provide the local masses with comfortable, good quality, affordable fashion. Pop into either of the stores, take a look around and see for yourselves – you won't be disappointed.

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