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IMG_5616 sign compIndependent retailers in Dalbeattie town centre are being encouraged to enrol in the Let’s Talk Shop programme, a free course of specialised Shop Doctor support.

Bill Smith, the Shop Doctor, will be delivering his informative and motivational retail master-class, Let’s Talk Shop, to retailers on the evening of Monday 16 September 2013, starting at 5.30pm, in Dalbeattie Town Hall.

There are high hopes for a big turn out from town centre businesses. Business owners attending will have an opportunity to share ideas on how to enhance the economic vitality of independent retailers in Dalbeattie.

In addition to the master-class, up to 10 independent retailers in the town will qualify to receive an in-store surgery from The Shop Doctor enabling them to directly benefit from his specialised advice.

Each of the 10 shops enrolled for the one-to-one visits will also receive a comprehensive report focused on helping to re-energise each of the individual participating businesses. They will also be eligible for a £500 grant towards implementing recommendations made by The Shop Doctor. A follow-up check-up will be arranged 12 months later.

Business Gateway is supporting this initiative and will have experienced advisers available to promote to the retailers the wealth of services and courses they have to offer.

Councillor Ian Carruthers, Chair of the Council’s Planning, Housing and Environment committee said: “I would encourage all independent retailers in Dalbeattie to get involved in this programme. In many cases retailers won’t have to spend a fortune to benefit from the Shop Doctor’s advice.”

To register for the Let’s Talk Shop workshop or to find out more, contact Grant Coltart, Dumfries and Galloway Council, t: 030 33 33 3000, or email

shopping experience cheshire towns 191Veteran retailer Bill Grimsey, the former boss of DIY chain Wickes and food retailer Iceland, has unveiled a 31 point plan identifying routes to rescue the  struggling high streets.

The recommendations offer an alternative plan to the Mary Portas Review and include a suggestion to raise a £550m local economic development fund by levying major retailers turning over £10m with a 0.25% retail tax.

Central to the plan is the need to accept that there is too much retail space already in the market and that town centres need to become community hubs with multiple different uses including healthcare, business, the arts and manufacturing.

To view the 31 recommendations click here (pdf document)

A further 70 independent retailers across 5 more towns in Dumfries & Galloway will now be receiving assistance from The Shop Doctor.

Following the success of the recent Shop Doctor Programmes delivered by Let’s Talk Shop Ltd in Dumfries, Annan, Stranraer, Gretna and Lockerbie the scheme has now been extended to provide support to shops in Dalbeattie, Thornhill, Langholm, Castle Douglas and Newton Stewart.

Let’s Talk Shop Ltd was successful in securing the contract for onward delivery of the programme which will take the number of shops now receiving Shop Doctor support in Dumfries & Galloway to 140.

Similar recent programmes in Argyll & Bute and East Lothian increase the number of independent shops involved with The Shop Doctor in Scotland alone to 160.

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”.

DSC_0060 croppedWith a portfolio of some 13 charity shops across the UK, LIFE recognises the importance of ensuring that its retail network delivers the best of standards and service to help ensure it can efficiently sustain and develop its charitable objectives.

The Shop Doctor was recently asked to provide a full day’s training in Rugby to some 26 staff responsible for the management of the shops.  He focused on helping them better understand how to maximise the returns available from each of their businesses by the implementation of effective merchandising practices and proficient customer service.

With the Shop Doctor’s fast-moving, fun and participative delivery style, the day proved a great success with delegates returning to their shops with renewed motivation and plenty of ideas for turning good shops into even better ones.


The Shop Doctor will be spending  4 days in Stranraer between the 25th and 28th September in the latest Let’s Talk Shop  support programme funded by Dumfries & Galloway Council.

The visit follows recent work undertaken in Annan and Dumfries and includes anevening Masterclass Workshop on the Tuesday 25th helping retailers understand the importance of providing a strong first impression to customers and how application of some straightforward common sense can make a real differences to shop performance.

During the programme the Shop Doctor will also be visiting individual retailers assessing their businesses potential and presenting recommendations for change that need cost no more than a little time.

The Shop Doctor commented “in the present economic climate it is not always possible for retailers to invest in new shop fittings, lighting or even redecoration. My challenge is to identify cost effective routes to improve retail performance, working with what the retailer has already got by making it work even harder” he added “where investment is an option I can help ensure that the investment is one that can really help build performance and onward profitability”

For further details of the retail masterclass or to discuss the possibility of arranging a ‘one to one’ visit contact:

Wendi Cuffe, Economic Development Officer, Dumfries & Galloway Council
Phone: 0303 333 3000


Less than a week to go before “The Shop Doctor” visits Annan to commence a “Let’s Talk Shop” Retailer Support programme funded by Dumfries & Galloway Council.

The programme commences on the evening of Tuesday 26th June with a retail masterclass identifying issues felt to impact on the retail vitality of shops in the town. The presentation will include examples of The Shop Doctors first impressions of Annan and its shops together with examples he has observed from other areas.

In the days following the presentation ‘one to one’ in store sessions are being arranged with an initial base of 12 shops  being visited. During these sessions  The Shop Doctor will looking closely at each of the businesses and developing individual solutions to help each  improve their retail vitality.

The programme follows work recently undertaken by The Shop Doctor with 24 shops in Dumfries where the response to the very individual assistance was extremely well received.

Retailers interested in attending the masterclass or participating in the programme should contact Beverley Bamford via email at

Another very interesting day spent in Dumfries on Thursday 19th April meeting with four businesses for the first time, and looking in on some of those visited previously.

Good to see that some of my initial recommendations have already been acted upon and that they have had a positive impact on the businesses concerned, hopefully even more activity once each have received a ‘Shop Doctor Recommendations Report’.

The new Debenhams Store is moving towards completion and this should help to regenerate activity at the north end of High Street, potentially delivering increased footfall into Friars Vennel from those parking at White Sands and walking into the Town via the Vennel, a way needs to be found to encourage this opportunity.

The great range of small independent shops operating in Friars Vennel, historically a route linking the town with the river crossing that developed over time into an important shopping street, are well placed to  take advantage of any increased footfall and it would only take the reoccupation of  a number of the presently empty shop units to help revitalise this important end of the Town.

Retailers in Cheshire West and Chester will be able to attend one of  “The Shop Doctors” Retail Masterclasses being arranged for 29th March 2012.

The masterclass is being delivered as part of a  new “Shop Doctor Support Programme” being delivered into Cheshire West and Chester for the first time.

The programme also allows for ‘one to one’ advisory visits with 12 independent retailers within each of their businesses. Following the visits each retailer will be receive a comprehensive recommendations report from the Shop Doctor detailing opportunities that he believes will  help build business performance and onward profitability.

The Shop Doctor comments that “unlike many recent TV shows featuring retail ‘gurus’ that result in a major stock purge, and often expensive shop refits, my advice is about identifying immediate solutions that can be cost effectively implemented to help revitalise the businesses concerned.” he added “Substantial investment is often  desirable but not always possible in the prevailing economic climate. We work with the retailers concerned to help them recognise and maximise their existing opportunities, ones that can materially improve performance and lead to future investment if necessary when the economic climate improves”