Bexleyheath bridal shop still going strong
PUBLISHED: 10:44 31 January 2013 | UPDATED: 10:44 31 January 2013
Owner of family run Bexleyheath bridal shop Bell'Amoré, Clare Backley, was naturally devastated when her father died.
Not only was he her dad, he was also her business partner. Clare had helped her parents – Tom and Brenda Faulkner – and sister, Karen, set up the shop in November 1992 when she was still studying fashion design at college as a 16-year-old.
But when Tom died almost 15 years ago, aged just 52, Clare used her grief to motivate her to make the Broadway business a success.
The 36-year-old said: “Dad dying was the only time when I thought the business might fail. We were a real team and it didn’t feel right without him being around – all the girls who worked in the shop loved him.
“But I also felt extra determined to make it work to honour him and we haven’t looked back. I know numerous bridal shops that have gone bust recently. My mum is always there, never takes a day off and is a credit to him.”
Bell’Amoré had a party to celebrate their 20th anniversary last November and Clare, who was born in Barnehurst and has lived in the area all her life, admits she did not think the business would have been as successful as it has been.
It offers a full range of services, including kitting out grooms, bridesmaids and supplying accessories.
She said a lot of the success they have achieved has been down to word of mouth and recommendations, which saves a lot on advertising.
“It’s amazing to think we’re now getting daughters and nieces of brides we served 20 years ago coming into buy wedding dresses.
“We try to give excellent customer service so customers tell their family and friends about us and it snowballs from there.”
Many of the 13 members of staff have been with Bell’Amoré since the beginning, including shop manager Joanna Brown, who lives in Bexleyheath.
She said: “We haven’t really noticed a lull in the past few years. People are always going to get married and at the moment we’re normally booked up for fittings three or four weeks in advance.
“Having a stall in the Bluewater Show probably helps as it helps us meet more local customers who are more likely to make an appointment as opposed to the central London equivalents.”
Clare says the past 20 years have not been without their challenges, most notably the economic problems the high street has experienced in the past few years and the growth of the internet.
This is because people can shop from the comfort of their own living room and it has caused Bell’Amoré to adapt the way it operates and develop its own website.
But Clare, who is married to three-time Olympic medal winner Steve Backley, said some things never change.
“While the average age of brides has generally gone up people are still willing to shell out for a nice dress – because for the bride especially, it will be one of the best days of her life and she’ll only want to do it once.
“We also always see a few more people come in to look around after Valentine’s Day. Romance is still alive.”
Bell’Amoré stocks dresses from £300 to around £3,500.
n For more information visit bellamore.co.uk or call 0208 298 1978.