Kiti owner Gwenno Penrhyn talks summer sales and retail challenges

Opened in 2015, Welsh womenswear boutique Kiti is a treasure trove of cool international brands handpicked by its stylish owner, Gwenno Penrhyn. From Farm Rio and Ganni to Bash and Anine Bing, it offers a highly curated edit of feminine and elegant pieces coupled with a personable service. Here the founder reveals what’s most popular online and in-store as well as where she’ll be making her selections for SS24…

How is business at the moment?

Business is great! After a slow start to the year due to factors such as cost of living and the weather, we are pleased that sales have picked up over the last couple of months.

What are you currently selling most of both in-store and online?

In the summer season we are mainly known for the amazing range of dresses that we stock. Our customers have particularly loved a new brand called Celia B this season. Esska sandals have done incredibly well too. We can’t get enough in!

What’s been most popular for SS23 overall?

The new pre-fall Stine Goya collection has done amazingly well for us, which we are really pleased with. 

Did you introduce any new brands this season and how well have they performed?

Celia B is a new brand for us and has very been popular among shoppers. Petite Mendigote is another label we’ve introduced for the first time this season and it has also performed well.

What will you be looking for when you start buying for SS24? Do you think you’ll be making any changes to your buy based on SS23?

We always seek new brands so we will certainly be offering new, UK and international brands for SS24. We would love to offer more occasionwear as we move forward as we will be collaborating with Alison Todd, the internationally renowned miller from Abergavenny.

Where will you do your buying?

We mostly do our buying in London and Paris. As well as showrooms we’ll also be attending Scoop and Who’s Next.

What are the biggest challenges you’re currently facing as a small business?

Brexit has been devastating for small businesses such as us, as has the cost of living crisis. The soaring energy bills have been crippling for households and businesses alike.

Is there anything you think suppliers could be doing differently to support independent retailers?

Brands could make re-ordering more accessible, lower minimum re-orders and support us with the ever-increasing delivery costs.

Do you have any events or promotions planned for the next few months to increase footfall?

We regularly host events at Kiti to showcase our brands. More recently, we hosted two events: one to celebrate our mention in The Guardian as number one boutique in the UK and the second to collaborate with a local jeweller. She was able to use our beautiful store to showcase her new collection to shoppers. Supporting other women in business is very important to us.

How optimistic are you feeling about the final half of 2023 and going into 2024?

Despite having a successful SS23, we are cautious going into AW23 as these are always tricker months to maintain footfall and high sales.