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Following a recent revisit to high street shops in Haddington, Musselburgh, North Berwick, Dunbar and Prestonpans our Shop Doctor is now busy producing reports updating recommendations made to the participating businesses during this fourth phase of work for East Lothian Council.

Many of the businesses had already benefited from the recommendations with some able to move forward to implement some of the more challenging opportunities within their shops.

One, Blueberry had recently moved premises to a similar shaped but larger shop and  transferred many of the ideas relating to potential improvements within their old shop into the new one.

Dunbar Community Bakery had undergone the most extensive work delivering a much brighter and more attractive interior that was not only an improvement for customers but made working within the shop much easier. Hopefully the excellent upgrade will help enhance sales and onward profitability.

The relocated counter at Flowers by Arrangement in Musselburgh had materially improved accessibility around the shop by opening up the entrance and exposing more of the shelving on the right hand side. Still more improvements to come, especially to the  lighting.

 

 

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

 

The Shop Doctor will be returning to East Lothian at the end of January to revisit businesses in Haddington, Dunbar, North Berwick and Cockenzie.

This will be my 6th trip to East Lothian” says Bill, “it is always good to catch up with the great range of retail operators that have previously participated in my Let’s Talk Shop Advisory programmes”.

Dependent upon retailer interest it is hoped that a further round of Let’s Talk Shop support will be facilitated later in the year in conjunction with East Lothian Council.

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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.

sldcExcellent evening with the team from  Invest in South Lakeland at their Business Event at The Low Wood Hotel in Windermere last night with fellow speakers Nick Comer, Rosetta Brands Ltd and Justin Grammer, PS Business Matters.

Thought provoking and entertaining insight into the effective use of the ever changing world of Social Media from Justin and always  enlightening to hear the story of the online development of Rosetta Brands.

Justin Grammer
Justin Grammer
Nick Comer
Nick Comer

 

and me!
Bill Smith

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.

If your business has been affected by the December floods the team at Cumbria Chamber of Commerce can almost certainly help, and they have previously helped Cumbrian businesses through Foot & Mouth, the 2005 Floods and the 2009 Floods.

Whether you have been flooded directly or are affected indirectly (for example through staff evacuations or your supply chain), download their Business Continuity Checklist for a list things to think about and do immediately and see their Business Recovery Toolkit for more information to support your recovery. See http://www.cumbriagrowthhub.co.uk/news/article/december-floods

Advisers are available, free of charge, to help you deal with the immediate impact and through the recovery process – call 0844 257 8450 or email info@cumbriagrowthhub.co.uk

 

From October 5th businesses with over 250 full time equivalent  employees in England will have to charge 5p for a disposable carrier   bag unless it is used to carry a varied list of exempt products  ( visit Gov.uk for full details)

Larger stores will have to ensure that the relatively complicated rules on when charging applies is passed down to individual checkout operators – and then make sure that the process is properly managed. Added complications include dealing with home deliveries, and how to control charging for bags at self-service checkouts.

Smaller businesses, who do not have to charge, may see  some regular customers asking for bags on a more frequent basis so that they can stockpile them to use for free during their visits to the supermarket.

So what should small businesses do? If they carry on supplying  free bags they might find that they will have to buy more bags to satisfy increased demand. If they charge will it put them at a disadvantage against the big boys?

The decision might be based on what actually happens in an individual business but, in reality, if customers accept paying for single-use bags at the supermarket will they quibble if they have to pay in smaller shops, particularity if the money raised is used to support recognised good causes.

Maybe it would be easier if a 5p charge just became the norm.

For some interesting comments and statistics on the use of plastic bags visit BBC news magazine

 

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The recent Let’s Talk Shop support programme in East Lothian provided opportunity for ten independent businesses in East Lothian  to receive one-to-one advice from The Shop Doctor in the days following the retail masterclass held on the evening of Tuesday 26th August.

Businesses participating in the programme were Footlights Dancewear and Haddington Herbals in Haddington;  whynot?, Tulipa and The Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick; Knowes Farm Shop in East Linton; Dunbar T-shirt Shop and 1650 Coffee Shop in Dunbar;  Cashmere Barn at Fenton Barns Retail Village and The Merrygoround in Gullane.

Each of the businesses will be receiving a comprehensive Shop Doctor Recommendations Report detailing potential opportunities to help further develop retail vitality within each of the diverse range of businesses visited.

IMG_1159 croppedHaddington Farmers’ Market, held on the last Saturday every month, also received a visit from The Shop Doctor with the objective of identifying routes to further enhance footfall to this popular and very friendly event.

Each of the 17 stalls active on the day were reviewed, as was the way in which the market as a whole engaged with customers.

 

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.