The Fatface Head Office is based in Havant near Portsmouth on the south coast of England. The active lifestyle brand was started by entrepreneurs Jules Leaver and Tim Slade in 1988 by simply selling T-shirts in busy French ski resorts. (1)
Four weeks ago a special new shop opened in the Meridian Centre at 21 North Street in the heart of the town of Havant. The fashion chain is known for its soft colour palette and good quality leisure wear for men, women and children. Selling unworn outlet stock at discounted prices is a winning formula in this area of the south east where most peoples wages are relatively low and the housing costs are so high they can be out of reach for many local residents.
The building is on the corner of the 1980’s shopping centre with a brick facade. The fresh look white frontage of this new venture features the Fatface logo with a green heart made out of fingerprints. This represents how the values of the people that work for the organisation include an emphasis on ‘treading lightly on the planet’ in terms of each individuals environmental impact.
Two large windows frame a glass from door which showcases the denim, leather, wool and cotton textiles within. Two further large glass sections flood light into the wide cream painted interior, highlighting all the brightly coloured stock neatly hung on the many rails and free standing units.
Apart from unusual signage the boutique looks and feels like any other branded outlet from this British business that floated on the stock exchange a few years ago. FatFace is now led by well known business leaders previously of Asda and Marks and Spencer acclaim.
“We’re really excited to tell you about our FatFace Foundation shop… the first ever retail foundation shop (we think)!” proclaims the official website.(2)
All the profits from this venture go to local charities and local community projects. As Portsmouth and Havant have several areas of poverty and need, there are many who will appreciate support from Fatface. The company’s regular target customers are more likely to be able to afford skiing holidays and travelling adventure trips on a regular basis than the average Havant shopper.
The sales assistance are friendly and helpful and upbeat about the stores opening success.
“The shop is going really well so far. I have been over to the warehouse today” says the pretty blonde Manageress happy to chat about the slightly random nature of the collection. “I have picked all the best gilets but I will be looking out for some more small sizes.”
The new store was packed full of customers on Saturday but a little quieter during the week. There are two dressing rooms so it would be advisable to pick a quieter time of day in order to avoid a wait to try items on.
“We can exchange but not refund.” says another sales assistant politely.
Fatface Foundation charities include hospices, children’s trusts, air ambulance services, animal santuaries, guide dog and life boat charities. “Since 2016 we’ve been working in partnership with Hampshire Cricket in the Community and local schools in Hampshire” states the official website. (2) A partnership with the Prince’s Trust working on programmes that support young people who need some extra help to become employed has also become an ongoing involvement for the organisation.
Havant certainly needs the help from community minded retailers and local manufacturing businesses. Child poverty is a reality for too many families in Portsmouth and Havant even in 2018. The Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) are produced by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and provide information on deprivation on a range of economic, social and housing issues. In 2015, the Borough had 18 areas within the 20% most deprived areas in England; of these, 6 were in the 10% most deprived. (3)
2019 marks 10 years since the Fatface foundation was formed. In that time they have raised over £1 million pounds to date for worthy causes. We wish their new venture well and look forward to FatFace being a permanent part of central Havant. In these challenging economic times Havant needs all the quality shops it can get, in order to create and maintain a thriving commercial district, in addition to its regular street market. This will help the town to continue to succeed and be a pleasant place to work and relax, that is worthy of its Roman town history, which developed around the 11th century church of St Faiths.
(1) Wikepedia, FatFace
(2)Fatface Foundation website, 15 Nov 2018
(3)Havant Borough Profile & Local Plan 2036, Havant Borough Council Jan 2018