For the last 12 months Lets Talk Shop Ltd has been advising on, and managing, the major refurbishment and transformation of Windermere Business Centre into “Windermere Works”.

The concept to provide more flexible working  space was identified in response to the recognition that many small, locally based businesses work from their spare bedrooms, converted garages or dining room tables. Business meetings are often centered on local cafes which, whilst providing a pleasant social environment, might not be the best of locations to openly discuss complex or confidential business issues.

This  need has been resolved by the creation of a Hot Desk Hub, Meeting Place and Lounge available on a day basis or on a more permanent relationship where a range of bespoke business support opportunities can be incorporated into the arrangements. These could include call handling, mail management, hosting of seminars or special events. The facilities are also supported by a manned reception delivering a professional  first point of contact for those visiting the premises and the businesses working within them.

Add to this the development of two larger fully serviced ground floor office suites, Bake House and Sugar Store and the refurbishment of smaller existing offices on the first floor,  businesses seeking to expand their presence in the town, or even relocate into the area, now have an opportunity to occupy a high standard office environment, very different from other accommodation available locally.

With further phases of development in the pipeline the building, that was for many years  home to Atkinsons Cake Works, is seeing a transformation that will ensure that Windermere Works for Businesswell into the future.

Click here for pdf mini brochure

Contact Windermere Works

Bake House Information Brochure

Sugar Store Information Brochure


Tuesday April 12th  sees the commencement of another round of Let’s Talk Shop activity across East Lothian.

Following  presentation of an evening retail workshop in Haddington on Tuesday 12th our Shop Doctor will be carrying out up to ten one-to-one advisory visits to independent retailers in the area during the rest of the week.

This will be the third occasion that Let’s Talk Shop has been contracted by East Lothian Council to work with retailers and the initial visits will be followed up with a revisit to monitor progress  and identify any new opportunities later in the year.



Shopfront changes-page-001 (3) - Copy

In my recent revisit to retailers in Kirkcudbright it was pleasing to see that many had taken on board recommendations made to them following  my original one-to-one visits.

Internal changes implemented  within many of the shops was identified as helping to materially improve the way customers “shopped the shop” and contributed towards a more active retail environment during what had not been the best of trading years.

Grant assistance from Dumfries  &  Galloway Council had also enabled a number of the businesses to upgrade their shopfront presentation and the examples show some after (on the left) and before (on the right) images of a small selection of the businesses visited.

Whilst some changes are quite subtle (such  the graphics in the window at Belfry Cafe) and the simple repaint at Wm Law other retailers such as Kennedy’s and Tollbooth Gifts have delivered more  dynamic change and materially improved their impact in the town.

With the majority of shops in Kirkcudbright occupied the town presented a varied and active retail environment and, like so many of the towns in Dumfries & Galloway,  one well worth visiting.

Jamie Reed MP for Copeland had recently asked a parliamentary question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to whether he plans to offer deadline extensions for tax due by businesses affected by flooding in Cumbria.

His response:

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) operates a dedicated Severe Weather helpline to offer help and advice on any tax matters to those people and businesses affected by the recent flooding. The helpline is 0800 904 7900

Opening hours are Monday to Friday, 8.00 am to 8.00 pm; Saturday and Sunday, 8.00 am to 4.00 pm, excluding bank holidays.

HMRC will also:

  • consider instalment arrangements where customers are unable to pay as a result of the floods;
  • agree a practical approach when individuals and businesses have lost vital records to the floods;
  • suspend debt collection proceedings for those affected by the floods; and
  • cancel penalties when the customer has missed statutory deadlines due to the floods.

Retail RevitalisationThere has been considerable activity in Whitehaven over recent months to assist retailers to recognise and maximise opportunities to attract and retain customers in the increasingly positive retail environment within the town.

Ensuring that shops present themselves in a manner that engages customer interest is a critical issue, particularly in the lead up to Christmas. To help identify such opportunities, The Shop Doctor has been invited to provide a Retail Workshop to retailers in the town focusing on key aspects of visual merchandising.

In advance of the workshop, The Shop Doctor will also be reviewing how customers might perceive the town and its shops. He will also engage retailers attending the workshop in discussions about issues that impact on the creation of positive first impressions and how any negative issues might be overcome.

The workshop will be taking place on Tuesday 11th November from 6pm until 8pm in the Education Suite at the Rum Story.

Spaces are very limited, so to enquire about availability, please e-mail or call 01900 825213.

IMG_1745Part-funded by the EU ERDF programme, ‘Revitalising Tourism Retail’ is based on a highly successful pilot provided last year by East Lothian Council. The programme  is once again being delivered by Let’s Talk Shop Ltd.

Independent retailers in North Berwick, Dunbar, Haddington, Gullane and East Linton have enrolled for the programme which commences on the evening of Tuesday 26th August with a masterclass looking at the challenges facing the retail sector.

In addition to the masterclass, each participating retailer will benefit from a one-to-one advisory visit from The Shop Doctor that will be supported by a comprehensive Recommendations Report identifying opportunities to help enhance retail vitality.

For more information visit the East Lothian Council website

As part of the programme, The Shop Doctor will also be visiting Haddington Farmers’ Market on Saturday 30th August.  The subsequent Recommendations Report will provide pointers to help individual stallholders refresh their offering and identify routes to enhance the market as a whole.


IMG_9208Following a recent request for advice our Shop Doctor was pleased to meet with the committee responsible for running this small community shop based in an outbuilding of the Derby Arms Pub in Witherslack , Cumbria.

The committee was last advised when the shop was near to opening its doors in 2008 and, since then, although the business has seen growth some seasonal ebbing and flowing in relation to meeting local need has not yet enabled the shop to achieve its potential.

The dedicated committee of volunteers now feels that a sales plateau has been reached and have been keen to seek ways to further develop the business, hence their call to Let’s Talk Shop.

After spending some time meeting with the committee and reviewing the shop a short recommendations report has been provided identifying a list of opportunities that should help the business to develop even further. In addition it is hoped that the all involved in running the shop have been motivated by the visit and will be able to assess potential opportunities from a different perspective.

The shop is operated as an Industrial and Provident Society for the Benefit of the Community.

IMG_2501 website

June has seen yet more independent shops in Scotland receiving Shop Doctor support in ongoing support programmes funded  by East Lothian Council and Dumfries & Galloway Council.

A total of 21 ‘on-to-one’ shop visits  took place across North Berwick, Haddington, Dunbar, Gretna and Lockerbie in June with a further 6 shops in Lockerbie scheduled for a visit in early July. Every visit is supported by a comprehensive Shop Doctor report detailing practical opportunities considered available to improve business vitality within each of the businesses concerned.

Commenting on the visits our Shop Doctor advised that “There continues to be  a tremendous variety of retail choice available on our High Streets with independent retailers providing a critical role in maintaining the unique identity of the fabric of a town” and added  “retailers, local councils, landlords and the general public each have an important role to play in sustaining business vitality in our towns and all need to work towards a common goal”.

Successful tenders recently submitted by Lets Talk Shop Ltd to East Lothian Council, Dumfries & Galloway Council and Argyll & Bute Council will shortly see independent retailers in Dunbar, Haddington, North Berwick, Lockerbie, Gretna and Rothesay participating in Shop Doctor Support Programmes.

This will increase the number of  Scottish towns benefiting from the bespoke advice provided to independent retailers within them to nine with over 100 individual businesses receiving one-to-one advice and in excess of that number of delegates participating in the associated retail/merchandising workshops.

The visit to Rothesay, Isle of Bute is on behalf of the Rothesay Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI), a £2.6 million project currently coming toward the end of year two of a five year delivery phase. The THI project is funded by Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Scotland, Leader and Argyll & Bute Council.

Let’s Talk Shop has recently been awarded the contract to work with Dumfries & Galloway Council, VisitScotland and 12 quality assessed Visitor Attractions across Dumfries and Galloway.

The intention of this pilot project is to add value to support to be delivered by VisitScotland who will be advising the attractions involved how to sustain and improve the quality of the visitor experience based upon their established Quality Assurance criteria.

Let’s Talk Shop will be focusing on identification of routes to improve overall business performance  and recommendation of areas for business improvement capable of delivering positive impact on both business vitality and the visitor experience.

“This is not just about enhancing any retail aspect within the attraction” advised Bill Smith of Let’s Talk Shop, “it’s about taking an holistic look at each of the attractions and identifying routes to enhance their vitality and opportunity for effective and profitable engagement with those visiting”

Dawn Hunter-Ellis of DHE Associates will be applying her valuable experience of the tourism sector by working in association with Let’s Talk Shop in the delivery of this project.