Visitor Attractions

Windermere Business Centre has been providing managed office space in the heart of Windermere for almost 20 years in addition to a variety of other business ventures.

Following recent developments in the management of this family owned business a major programme of investment is now underway. Ground floor space is being transformed to create a new reception area, a break out/business lounge, meeting space, hot desk provision and three separate areas of bespoke office accommodation providing 660, 720 and over 1000sq ft of modern managed office space.

Once home of Atkinsons Cake Factory, and dating back to the early 1900’s, some of the industrial heritage of the building is being  recaptured in the refurbishment which, once completed, will enable a wider cross section of local business needs to be accommodated than has previously been possible.

Having been associated with the Business Centre for over a decade, and based within it for a number of years prior to establishing Let’s Talk Shop, it is pleasing that Lets Talk Shop Ltd has now been contracted to assist in the management of the Centre going forward and helping to drive development of the opportunities that it will provide for small to medium enterprise development in South Lakeland.

Watch this space for more news of this exciting development.

First floor space of 394 sq ft has recently become available – if you would like more details please email me  on or telephone 015394 40020


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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.

sldcThe Invest in South Lakeland Team at South Lakeland District Council are holding a free Business and Networking Event on Thursday 10 March at Low Wood Hotel, Ambleside.  


Taking your product to the online market
Nick Comer, Rosetta Brands Ltd

Improving your high street presence
Bill Smith, The Shop Doctor, Let’s Talk Shop Ltd

Social Media & Twitter for Business
Justin Grammer, PS Business Matters

Doors will open from 6pm for networking, refreshments and registration and the event will start at 6.30pm finishing at 8.30pm.

This free event is open to any South Lakeland businesses including those wanting to re-locate to this area. 
Please register online on (please note that places are limited to 2 attendees per company).
The Invest in South Lakeland Team at SLDC



It cannot be easy to see your business devastated by flood water,  and undoubtedly heartbreaking to see the business you have worked so hard to develop  washed away through no fault of your own.

With an understandable desire to get the business back into operation as quickly as possible there is often limited time available to consider whether or not changes to the internal layout of the shop might deliver new business opportunities.

But if you are starting again with a relatively blank canvas do not rush  to reinstate what was there before. An opportunity exists to address layout issues that might have previously impacted negatively on the way customers  ‘shopped the shop’ . Careful placement of replacement shelving might help alter the way  customers circulate; identifying and maximising the impact of new selling hot-spots can help generate additional sales and improving merchandising techniques is easier when you are having to stock the shelves from scratch.

It might even be practical to relocate the counter, just because things have always been in a certain position does not mean that they are in the best position for your business in the future.

Identifying new opportunities, on top of everything else required to get the business up and running again, might deliver some challenges, but it is time that could be well spent.

We would be only too happy to discuss with you how our extensive expertise could help ensure that opportunities are not missed and help identify the silver lining available for your business in the future

The following information has been supplied via South Lakeland District Council.  More general information can be found on the SLDC website link:

SLDC Business Rates – All premises are exempt for 3 months if empty. Industrial premises receive up to 6 months if they become empty. We would only be seeking to confirm whether the flooding had affected the whole premises and preventing any trade from the site. Consideration will be given, where appropriate, to extend these periods via means of a local scheme which is awaiting approval, specific to the flooding. Contact SLDC Taxation Team 01539 793245 or

Time To Pay – This scheme allows affected businesses additional time to pay taxes to HMRC, including VAT, PAYE and corporation tax. For further details contact the HMRC hotline on 0800 904 7900, set up for those who have been affected by flooding and may have difficulties in meeting their tax liabilities. To apply to the Time To Pay Scheme call 0300 200 3835 and discuss with an adviser.

Federation of Small Businesses For Members: for insurance related issues, irrespective of being a policy-holder, contact FSB Insurance on 0345 762 6158. Contact the Legal Advice Line on 03450 727 727 for any legal aspects to the flood and clean-up. The legal documents section of the website also has useful support (log-in required) For Non- Members: call FSB Insurance Advice Line on 03450 727 727 and speak to Steve Dawson. For employment support: contact Brian Harrison on or 01539 730382 For practical support: contact Paul Foster on or 07917 628909.
Cumbria Tourism – Working with FSB to ensure the impact of the tourism sector is fully captured, and assisted with Government financial support. Please complete it here:
Helpful guidance and updates on the floods are here A helpline is available for affected businesses, contact 01539 822222 or

United Utilities – Water bills are being suspended for customers who have been forced from their premises, businesses should contact 0345 072 6072. Customers will need to supply a temporary address along with the flooded address. For any water or wastewater issues, call 0345 6723 723.
Electricity North West – Emergency Contact 0800 195 4141 or email, tweet @ElectricityNW
Cumbria County Council – contact 01228 606060


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

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


IMG_3040One of the recommendations made following my visit to The Old School, Dumfries earlier in the year was the need to enhance awareness of activities being undertaken inside the building.

Located slightly away from the town centre, the premises themselves delivered little indication that they provided accommodation to an interesting variety of small businesses.

It was pleasing to receive today the following comment and photographs from  Rachel Speedie of The Art Room, one of the businesses operating in The Old School building.  Rachel is helping to coordinate improvements to business vitality within the building.

I just wanted to show yOLd Shool Dumfries; Retail Revitalisation, The Shop Doctor; Let's Talk Shop; Retail Survival;  customer journey; visual merchandisingou what got installed today at The Old School in Dumfries,  apparently they can be seen from Brooke Street, but also DGOne & the Lidl traffic lights too!  

So THANK YOU!! None of this would have been possible without you…Rachel”

hThe Shop Doctor; Let's Talk ShopThe entrance to the premises are to the left-hand side of the building, immediately  off the access road to the customer car park.

Signage has also been installed on this facing of the building, further developing the opportunity to inform a wider audience about the presence of this small oasis of business activity.

Other businesses involved are: Blusha, Make-Up and Hair Specialist;  NonaLou’s Tea room, Cafe and Coffee Shop; Dumfries School of Dance; B Beautiful by Beth and Brighteye Design & Branding.

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.