COMING UP FAST: Mark Smith Claire's Accessories - Decisions

COMING UP FAST: Mark Smith Claire's Accessories - Decisions - MY BEST ... I set up an accessories shop in 1986 called Bow Bangles. It did well, and by 1995 I'd opened 72 stores, mostly in the north of England. But then we had a bad financial year and went into administration. Claire's Accessories offered to buy the remaining Bow Bangles stores. This company existed only in America, and it wanted me to launch the chain in the UK. I had three or four other investment offers for what remained of Bow Bangles, but I went with Claire's. It was a great decision. From then until I left Claire's last year, we opened 450 shops in the UK, and expanded into continental Europe. It was a very profitable move, both for Claire's and for myself.

by
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

MY BEST ... I set up an accessories shop in 1986 called Bow Bangles. It did well, and by 1995 I'd opened 72 stores, mostly in the north of England. But then we had a bad financial year and went into administration. Claire's Accessories offered to buy the remaining Bow Bangles stores. This company existed only in America, and it wanted me to launch the chain in the UK. I had three or four other investment offers for what remained of Bow Bangles, but I went with Claire's. It was a great decision. From then until I left Claire's last year, we opened 450 shops in the UK, and expanded into continental Europe. It was a very profitable move, both for Claire's and for myself.

MY WORST ... I made a couple of decisions in 1994 that, taken together, led to the financial crisis we had at Bow Bangles. We received a pounds 1 million cash injection, which I used to open 25 stores, but now I think I should have invested some of it in setting up a central computer system. The other bad decision was not dealing with tough people problems early. Great people drive a business forward, but poor people can affect it badly. Human nature makes you want to keep people and bring out their best, but it doesn't always work. I should have replaced some of our staff much earlier, but couldn't bring myself to do it. That was a mistake.

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime