Axminster comes out of lockdown with a fresh face on its main street as Lou La Belle opens its doors (on Thursday 18 June) to ladies fashion followers in the revitalised Trinity House.
Behind the rebranded business stands the familiar face of Louise Wall who has operated just round the corner in Victoria Place for the past 14 years as Labels For Less. “I jumped at the opportunity to take the first available unit in Trinity House because I very much wanted to be in the centre of town,” says Louise.
“The work that Ian Styles and his team have done on the building is fantastic – the whole place just oozes quality. My new shop is half as big again as the old one and it gives me the space to add gifts and small homeware items to what I am offering.”
Lou La Belle (like Labels For Less before it) offers quality ladies’ fashion and accessories. Bought in from fashion outlets in Italy as well as across the UK, the items Louise sells are new ones that have previously been available in the UK and internationally at around double the price. Major stores often run lines for only a few weeks before returning them to their warehouses, which is where Louise sources them and passes the saving on to her customers.
It is a recipe that her father, John Hadfield, put in place over 60 years ago when he set up in Leicestershire. Louise took over from him when she set up twin shops in Axminster and Ilminster in 2006. At Axminster, she shares the shop duties with part-timers Naomi Herbert and Barbara Williams and hopes that increasing business will justify at least one more.
“Axminster had a much bigger footfall when I opened here but I firmly believe it is overdue for a revival,” she says. “There are a lot of people who want to buy fashion locally rather than travel to other towns or buy online. If we can build that loyalty right across the independent shops then Axminster has a bright future.”