At Top Shop the mistake was to focus on too narrow an age range, alienating the 20- to 29- year-olds who felt they were a little long in the tooth for outsize grunge dresses and midriff- hugging tops.
At Principles the mistake was to make the store revamps so elegant and the merchandise so narrow in focus that many customers assumed it was a different shop.
At Burtons the mistake was to become too fashionable, losing those customers who wanted a more formal look.
At Top Shop and Principles reversing these mistakes has got sales on a rising trend once again, although the record has been so patchy that it would be rash to extrapolate from 11 weeks' figures. At Burtons an acceleration in the decline and a warning about a further drop in margins suggests there is still some way to go to get the format right.
Whether it will ever get the chains right remains an even bet. A 22-times multiple, based on a mid-range forecast of pounds 49m, assumes the odds are far better than that.