The downturn forced the company to diversify into new revenue streams. Feathers partnered with e-commerce specialist Farfetch to increase online sales. More than 10pc of the company’s £3m turnover is now generated online, claimed Mr Burstein.
However, the e-commerce site will always be a secondary revenue generator, he added. “Online exposure is expensive. We’ve seen a lot of boutiques around the world spend a lot of funds in vain.”
The customers that started coming to Feathers in sixties are now getting older, and it is crucial to attract a new generation of shoppers, he added. Plans include an in-store refresh, and the introduction of a new experiential shopping experience which allows customers to interact with apps on iPads.
“We want Feathers to be multi-generational,” said Mr Burstein. “We want to have a grandmother, daughter and granddaughter in the store.”
Mr Burstein is also keen to introduce new products in-store to attract new shoppers. “Feathers currently operates on two floors but there’s a bottom floor that I’d like to use for fragrance and curated artisanal apothecary products,” he said.
“We recently collaborated with perfumier Angela Flanders on a Feather Fragrance, and we’d like to do more in that area.”
According to Mr Burstein, the time is finally right to grow the Feathers brand across selected high end areas of London. “Consumer confidence is back,” he said. “We felt the turning point last year. And if we can survive here, sandwiched between Harrod’s and Harvey Nichols, we can compete in other areas too.”
Feathers was founded in 1969 by Willy and Jean Burstein– not to be confused with Joan Burstein, known to the fashion world as ‘Mrs B’, who founded the Browns boutique. Suzanne and Peter Burstein, Robert’s parents, are still involved in the business. Mrs Burstein remains the primary buyer for the store, while Mr Burstein runs operations.
This year, Feathers celebrates the 40th anniversary of its Knightsbridge store. “The retail environment has changed so much since we opened the first store,” said Mr Burstein. “If my grandfather were alive today, he would be completely thrown.”