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.
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.
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.
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: www.investinsouthlakeland.co.uk/news/article/590/December-Floods-Information/
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 email@example.com
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) www.fsb.org.uk For Non- Members: call FSB Insurance Advice Line on 03450 727 727 and speak to Steve Dawson. For employment support: contact Brian Harrison on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01539 730382 For practical support: contact Paul Foster on email@example.com 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: https://www.snapsurveys.com/wh/s.asp?k=144948183547
Helpful guidance and updates on the floods are here www.cumbriatourism.org/home/december-floods-guidance. A helpline is available for affected businesses, contact 01539 822222 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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. www.unitedutilities.com/emergencies-incidents.aspx corporate.unitedutilities.com/news-media.aspx
Electricity North West – Emergency Contact 0800 195 4141 or email email@example.com, 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.
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.
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
During my recent return to Langholm, it was pleasing to see the progress made by the shops visited during the initial phase of the Let’s Talk Shop support programme.
Most significant was that achieved by Cut The Mustard Gallery who, having relocated to the shop next door since my original visit, have undoubtedly transformed their business and its impact on the High Street.
Where the original premises had been relatively confined and limited in display potential, the new gallery provides excellent space from which to materially develop their business opportunities. The gallery also adds new dimension to the existing craft focus within the town, one that itself helps to draw additional footfall to the town. Relocation obviously came at considerable cost but, thanks to a very supportive and forward-looking landlord (who also provides valuable assistance to other retailers in the town who occupy shops owned by him), the transformation was achieved.
When originally visited, the owners of Sticks ‘n’ Stuff received advice as to how to set out their recently purchased shop premises. At the time, the shop was an empty shell and in need of considerable refurbishment. Now completely refurbished, the shop complements others in the town. It provides walking sticks made on the premises as well as all the components required to make your own alongside a range of collectible items.
Abbotts Chocolate Shop and Blue Moon Crafts have also made significant changes to help to engage customer interest more effectively.
At Langholm Gallery the simple removal of the wooden screening immediately behind the window has noticeably improved the visual impact of the window display itself and made the shop interior a far brighter environment in which to shop and work.
It is easy to pass through Thornhill without full appreciation of the selection of retailing gems operating from this attractive small town close to Drumlanrig Castle.
With free parking, public toilets, tearooms, cafes and hotels the number of shops may be relatively small, but the service provided and variety of products sold is large.
From the intriguing setting of Thomas Tosh, a cafe-gallery-retailer-venue based in the historic Old Parish Hall building in East Morton Street to the fashion delights at Voila and 101 Boutique time spent in Thornhill can certainly enhance the shopping experience.
Helping satisfy those seeking interior design and home accessories BQA Gifts, operated by The Buccleuch and Queensberry Arms Hotel, provides a wealth of intriguing items for the home and A1 Curtain Design deliver the skills and materials to compliment any home.
Hillhouse and Hunter have retained the traditional setting of the original business within their family run hardware store and, at the end of West Morton Street, Antiques at Zitan dislay original Chinese elegance for the home.
Of the ten businesses originally advised under the Let’s Talk Shop Support Programme 8 are still very much in business, one is closing down due to retirement ( the owner is now 84 ) and another, The Happy Potter Ceramic Cafe, is now Latte Da Tearoom.
All in all Thornhill sustains an intriguing mix of retail opportunity highly reliant on attracting customers seeking the service, quality and setting available. In addition on-line accessibility of many of the businesses concerned adds further dimension to individual business opportunities helping to sustain the businesses in the longer term.
In a recent follow up visit to Dalbeattie retailers who participated in the original Let’s Talk Shop Support Programme it was pleasing that many of them were feeling considerably more positive about their trading vitality.
Whilst there had been some shop closures in the town it is likely that it was not the economic climate alone that had contributed to their demise. Other businesses had invested and reports from those who had implemented improvements following the initial recommendations were very positive.
Whilst many of the participating retailers had taken advantage of the Let’s Talk Shop grants scheme to help introduce recommendations many were now waiting for implementation of the Shop Front Improvements Scheme to enable more robust external improvements to be undertaken.
One major improvement to the gateway impact of the town was the investment being undertaken at the Pheasant Hotel.
The dilapidated condition of the premises at the time of the original visit reflected poorly on the town and it is hoped that the major investment underway to create the Birch Tree Inn, Restaurant, Bar and Hotel will materially improve the arrival impact whilst increasing the number of bed spaces available, a positive step forward for tourism.