In the present economic climate, there can be few more challenging issues in our towns and villages than finding a way to revitalise the prosperity of the independent retail sector.
Consolidating experience gained in over 40 years of recognising, managing and advising business development opportunity in a challenging variety of customer facing and fast moving consumer environments, ‘Let’s Talk Shop’ has been established to provide a dedicated resource to deliver a proactive response to meet this challenging environment.
Let’s Talk Shop has the objective of advising, motivating, mentoring and supporting the independent retails sector and does so from the platform of the wide commercial and retail awareness of its founder, Bill Smith.
Well over 500 independent retailers in almost 50 towns have received practical advice and recommendations as to how each might develop turnover and profitability in the last 5 years. From ironmongers to beauty salons, corner shops to art galleries the list of business types advised is extremely comprehensive.
From involvement on a one-to-one basis with a stand alone corner shop, to working with a diverse group of independent retailers within a market town environment, each Let’s Talk Shop support programme is individually provided to suit client need.
The following Pen Picture of our ‘Shop Doctor’ (and Managing Director) helps to establish why his engagement with the independent retail sector can provide such a flexible, bespoke and highly focussed response to each and every retail and hospitality business visited: from village shop to high street fashion store; from charity shop to quality hotel.
Although originating from Manchester, Bill’s extensive business expertise was developed in the south of England. Over almost 30 years, his adept management, negotiation and diplomatic skills saw him assist in the development of a number of companies following an initial grounding in customer service with the then largest car rental company in the UK, Godfrey Davis.
His skills at recognising the needs of the customer, and maximising selling opportunities, took him into the downstream sector of the oil industry where he was responsible for assisting in the development of convenience retailing within the service station portfolio of a number of major independent players in the industry, including Caffyns and George Hammond PLC. Within these businesses he worked closely with the three major oil companies, Shell, Esso and BP.
Since moving with his family to Cumbria in 1998, Bill has become a recognised expert in the delivery of specialised advice to the independent rural and market town retail sector supplying bespoke consultancy and mentoring support as “The Shop Doctor”. He was also contracted to the Countryside Agency in the north west as Rural Business Services Consultant for 7 years between 1998 and 2005.
Recognising the needs of the community within which he lives, Bill was instrumental in the establishment of the Lakes Market Towns Partnership and the subsequent creation of South Lakes Development Trust: a charitable, not for profit social enterprise, based in Windermere. Securing and investing almost £1million into the local economy between 2005 and 2011, the prevailing financial climate caused the decision to be taken to wind up the Trust at the end of March 2011.
During the period, Bill was also instrumental in regenerating the activities of Lakes Hospitality Association as their Chief Executive and was also an elected member of the Commercial Members’ Committee of Cumbria Tourism for 6 years, and retains a deep interest and insight into the tourism industry.
As a founder director of Lakeland Fells Furniture Limited , and more recently establishment of its kitchen and fitted bedroom division Special Spaces Bill also brings practical insight into the challenges facing the establishment and onward sustainability of a specialist manufacturing business in a rural environment.
Bill also fulfills a number of additional voluntary activities that comfortably interface with his role as The Shop Doctor being a Windermere Town Councillor (and Mayor of Windermere from May 2008 until May 2011) , chair of the Bowness & Windermere Community Care Trust and also of Goodly Dale Cottage Homes.