Retailer of the Month – Cheryl Taylor, Editor, Talks to Rebecca Mahmood of SHOO and Bananalana, Saunderstead, Surrey.

HP Dog (2)Q&A

Name: Rebecca Mahmood
Shop(s): Bananalana & SHOO
Brands: Geox, Lelli Kelly, Startrite, Vans, Kickers,
Primigi, Hush Puppies, Bobux, Pediped,
Home town: Sanderstead, Surrey &
Coulsdon, Surrey.
Family: Husband & 2 children, Boy & Girl.


How did you get into footwear?

Tell us about your background and your current business?
I actually trained as a dancer; I went to the Hammond school in Chester then
to Laine Theatre Arts, London. I specialised in Ballet.
When I had my own children I found it very difficult to find shoes that
fitted and supported their feet properly as they have such narrow feet. The
only choice locally was Clark’s but none of their shoes fitted correctly. I love
different styles and colours of footwear and found that shopping at Clarks
didn’t give you a huge range to choose from, they all looked very similar.
Where are your premises located? Tell us about your shop(s), the local
area, your customers and their requirements?
We opened SHOO in Aug 2009, Bananalana was already open as a children’s
shoe shop, the owner then left to live in France and as we already had a
children’s shoe shop he asked if we would like to buy it, so in Sept 2011 we
did. Next year will be the tenth year open for Bananalana, so we shall be
celebrating it in style, with lot’s going on, offers, giveaways etc.
Both stores are located in Surrey, our store SHOO is located in Coulsdon,
we are next door to the library where singing and rhyme time is held weekly.
Coulsdon is a tight knit community with lots of independent businesses and
local schools who work together throughout the year to support each other,
we are always taking part in raffles and local events such as school fetes
and fairs.
A lot of regeneration is happening in the area
at present as there is the need for more housing
and shops to accommodate younger people
moving in to the area.
Bananlana is in Sanderstead, opposite a very
popular playground and cafe, and also we are
opposite a Primary School. Both shops are very child friendly – we have
marble runs and a rocking horse in store which
are both very popular with the children and create
a fun relaxing atmosphere when they visit us.
How many people do you employ?
Do you have a high turnover of staff?

We have four regular members of staff who all
work on a part-time basis so our customers
always see a familiar face. We are very lucky they
have worked with us for four years now. The only
staff that change are our Saturday staff who only
leave due to going off to university.

Do you have an online shop/website and do you
use social networking for business?
We are continuously updating our Facebook and
twitter pages with offers and promotions for our
followers, as we are combining both stores soon
we use the name Bananalana for both Facebook
and Twitter, you can view our shoes online at but are unable to purchase
online at the moment, however we are happy to
take orders over the phone.
How are you finding the footwear
market currently?
We opened our store (SHOO) in 2009 when the
country was in deep recession so we feel we have
survived the worst times and slowly but surely the
footwear industry is picking back up again. But
feel some people just aren’t aware how important
getting the right fit for their child’s feet is. I think
this needs highlighting as much as possible.
What’s selling well?
Any particular trends? Which are your best
selling footwear brands – and why?
GEOX is a very popular brand and is very well
known for being robust, great for active children.
They are super stylish and stand out in the crowd.
Lelli Kelly is our best selling brand for girls, Lelli
Kelly’s are fun, sparkly, pretty and very versatile.
They go with any outfit from everyday wear to
special occasions. Lelli Kelly’s are advertised on
the t.v and all come with a special accessory
which are also a winner with the girls!
In summer the most favoured brand for both
boys & girls is Croc’s. Crocs are great for wearing
on the beach, in the garden, pool side etc. They
are fun and bright and can be personalised using
Jibbitz.They are light weight and easy for children
of all ages to put them on.
How important is shoe fitting to your
business? Are you or any of your staff
members of the Society Of Shoe Fitters?
Shoe fitting is of the utmost importance in our
shops. Our customers rely on us to get the fit
absolutely correct; we fit a shoe to a foot not just
go by what is measured on the gauge. We get a
lot of people who are recommended to us from
hospitals as they need a good supportive shoe, or
they may have orthotics that need the correct
shoe and fit to accommodate them. We also fit
people who have splints.
Does your shop sell other items besides
footwear, bags, gloves, tights, socks, below the
ankle products?

We stock rucksacks for school, Lelli Kelly
handbags & Tutu’s, Wellie Socks for Hunters and
shoe care. AW15 we will be selling socks & tights
for children.
Do you use an EPOS (retail technology) system
in your shop(s)?
We are currently trialing an EPOS system.
Any tips on stock offers, novel ideas for
clearing lines or advice for independent shoe
retailers who might be feeling the pinch?
Not really it’s all about getting the buying correct!
What is your favourite men’s footwear
brand/manufacturer – ditto ladies/children’s
brand – and why?
This is very hard I have a few, Geox, Lelli Kelly,
Primigi & Croc’s. This is because they really
capture the children’s attention, either buy being
so colourful or how they advertise on television
and giving gifts with their shoes. So all children
want them!
How do you select your products – which
criteria do you use / what are your customers
looking for?
Customers are looking for good quality but at
competitive prices.
Which footwear/fashion shows do you attend,
how do you rate them?
We go to Moda in Birmingham and also
Bubble in London.
Do you have a favourite footwear agent you can
tell us about?
No, we do not have a favourite agent as there are
a few agents we deal with that are very good.
They are good because any concerns we may
have about the shoes they deal with very quickly
and most importantly they support us and this
makes them a pleasure to deal with.
Have you always had a passion for footwear?
How many pairs of shoes do you own? Do you
have a favourite pair?

As an ex – dancer my passion is for happy,
healthy feet.
I do love fashion, as a family we all wear shoes
that we stock in store, for this season I am
wearing GEOX pumps.
Any famous customers?
We do have one celebrity ‘Laura Hamilton’ the tv
presenter, but the rest are footballers wives!

And, the next step? Any plans for the future,
new lines, retail systems/new technology, etc.?

Yes we are looking to open a third store in 2016.
We also have a very new venture which I cannot
disclose yet!
Rebecca Mahmood.
33 Limpsfield Road,
Surrey, CR2 9LA.
0208 657 8888.