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Opinion: Are Agents An Endangered Species? Rose Trow, South West agent shares her views

We all hang on Sir David Attenborough’s every word when he highlights a gorgeous creature that is close to extinction… are independent sales agents next?

Prompted by the retirement of two of the company’s long serving agents, during his talk at The Ladder Club at the end of last year, Ged Mace, md of The Art File suggested that such is the paucity of sales agents and that so few are coming onto the scene, that they are something of an endangered species.

PG Buzz tracked down one of these wonderful beasts – Rose Trow, who covers the South West – to find out about life in her habitat over the last year.

Territory: Rose has been an agent in the South West for 23 years (and worked in the industry for seven years prior to this). She covers Bath, Bristol, Somerset, Devon, Cornwall, Dorset and Wiltshire representing Fizz, Glick, IC&G, Jellycat, Museums and Galleries, Paper Rose, Paper Salad, Redback, Transomnia and Wrendale.

If you were an animal, what would you be? “I think I would be a short-legged giraffe as they don’t need much sleep, and are always sticking their necks out for something or someone.”

Above: Hands up who can spot the difference between this and 5’ 2” Rose Trow?
Above: Hands up who can spot the difference between this and 5’ 2” Rose Trow?

The 2018 trade terrain: “2018 saw some very professional and good retailers retire and due to unrealistic rent and rate increases/leases expiring many will not live on as retail accounts for our sector. However, those independents left in the High Street will become stronger and will trade to their strengths. Survival will see them being more focused on their own individuality and not worrying what the nationals are doing. Indies will always have the ability to react to change and be first out of the traps with new products.”

What’s your hunch for 2019? “On my planet the High Street will bounce back as long as we accept that the challenges in 2018 are now the norm. Exclusivity has become extinct as companies have diversified outside their comfort zone, so the retailer has had to make the decision to either go with the flow or share that company’s products with another retailer in the town. This is a necessity to ensure that the presence of these products are available on high street to keep those hooves (footfall)

Above: Rose Trow (left) with Wendy Robilliard, who is a customer (with her Polka Dot shop in Bristol) and fellow agent, as Wendy recently started covering the Channel Islands.
Above: Rose Trow (left) with Wendy Robilliard, who is a customer (with her Polka Dot shop in Bristol) and fellow agent, as Wendy recently started covering the Channel Islands.

interested and not finger hopping online.

In Jack Reacher’s words: ‘Hope for the best, Plan for the worst’, is my feeling for 2019.”

Are agents endangered? “I am now in my 30th year in the industry and my 23rd as an agent. I remember starting out as an agent and it was tough. I don’t think the concept of an agent’s job has changed; there are a lot of us still in existence but there is a different animal in all of us.

We all need to hunt to eat to survive, but to do so requires a lot of looking after the retailer, being aware of what’s going on around them and being a wise old owl in passing on ideas. The independent retailer will become more endangered if we don’t look after them. We are ‘out and about’ and they don’t have the opportunity to shop as we do. It is a case of paying it forward.”

Top: Rose and one of her favourite IC&G cards.

 

 

 

 

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