More than repairs: Staerck unveils the pillars of Handbag Clinic

More than repairs: Staerck unveils the pillars of Handbag Clinic

A repair service for luxury handbags. Along with online resale and stores. These are the pillars of Handbag Clinic, which saw the demand for repairs diminish in 2020, but recorded a +306% growth for its e-commerce sales, compared to 2019, with a +500% increment during the first lockdown. This is Charlotte Staerck’s business, of which she is founder and CEO (in photo).

The pillars of Handbag Clinic

How did the idea arrive?

The company is a combination of two passions. The first is the one I have for handbags. The second is Ben’s, my husband, whom in 2004 had launched with his father a business by the name of Furniture Clinic, which provided a restoration service for furniture and other house goods made with leather, with 75 employees. In 2013, when I noticed that the demand for handbag repairs was increasing, I pushed Ben to open Handbag Clinic. The first store, on King’s road, opened in 2015 and in just a few months we began reselling some of the goods online.

And today?

We are the longest-active restoration service in the UK, for luxury items. We repair about 700 handbags each month, with 30 employees. We have numerous stores in the UK, Monaco and the Middle East. We are partnered with many luxury brands as well, such as Jimmy Choo and Aspinal of London.

What was the pandemic’s impact?

Even though we were forced to close our stores temporarily, we saw record a growth at the peak of the pandemic (April-May 2020) equal to +500% for online sales. During the entire year, the increment was of 306%, compared to the previous period.

How do you explain it?

The situation put luxury handbags in the spotlight, as an investment item, since they gain significant value. We have very expert clients: they know exactly when the right time to buy and sell is. A while ago only those that couldn’t afford the new product would buy second-hand, but that’s no longer the case. Everybody wants to be more sustainable now.

What about the demand for repairs?

They slightly decreased. In my opinion, clients prefer to come into the store and speak to someone directly. People feel much safer in handing their precious bag over to a store, rather than a shipping services. I think human relations are still incredibly important for this side of business. With stores being closed down though, we did see the number of online requests for repairs increase: it shows that people are adapting.

What brands do you see the most?

Mulberry, Chanel and Louis Vuitton. But also, Hermès Birkin and Kelly are in demand. LV is quickly growing. The neverfull bag is usually sold just a few months after being posted online on the website. IN trms of volumes, we bought and sold 500 LV bags in the last year, as well as 1,000 Mulberry, 300 Chanel and 300 Gucci.

What’s the most expensive bag you have repaired?

It was a Birkin bag made with alligator leather and diamonds worth 140,000 pounds.

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