Tuesday, December 2, 2014

News: Portas pops back to check on progress in Rotherham

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Mary Portas, the leading retail consultant called on by the Government to review the nation's High Street, has been back in Rotherham recently to check on the work being done to revitalise the town centre, work she earlier described as a "beacon many should follow."

Rotherham is a Portas Pilot, having secured £100,000 in Government funding to use innovative local ideas to revitalise the town centre. The borough also secured extra funding from British Land and The High Street Renewal Fund.

Having last visited Rotherham town centre in 2011 as part of her Government-commissioned review, Portas was back in the borough earlier this year to see the success of heritage-led regeneration on the High Street, the support of entrepreneurial retailers in Pop-Up shops and the newly opened, Makers' Emporium.

Transforming the former Snafu rock bar, the Makers' Emporium offers low-cost shared and professionally-managed retail space to a mixture of makers, crafters, artists and designers. Funded by the High Street Renewal Award and delivered in partnership between the Council, The Source Skills Academy and Rotherham Youth Enterprise, it aims to support new start-businesses looking to trade for the first time, raise awareness of their products and letting them see for themselves what takes to run their own business.

Since opening in April, the Makers' Emporium has exceeded its expected sales figures for its first six months of trading.

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Mary visited again last week with a film crew to speak to one of the makers, Paris Cheetham, owner of Panache Par Paris, about the success of the store. Paris set up in business in 2013 and hand makes paper products and gifts, selling them at craft fairs in the region and in boutique shops such as the Makers' Emporium.

Paris said: "I'm really proud to display my hand made paper products and gifts here at The Makers' Emporium. This is the first time that I have had a physical space devoted totally to my products, and the reaction from customers has been incredibly positive. The Makers' Emporium has provided me with a fantastic opportunity to sell my products in a first class location on Rotherham High Street, helping me to grow my business and get closer to my dream of owning my own retail unit."

Whilst browsing the unique products lovingly crafted by local makers, artists and designers and purchasing gifts for her family and friends, Mary said: "I love this place. It's unique, creative and full of talent and new ideas. Why would you not want to shop here?"

Tim Watmough, manager at the Makers' Emporium, added: "We currently have 34 creative individuals selling their products through us and that number has been consistent throughout the first six months here, showing that there is real need for a retail space such as this.

"I'd like to thank all our customers, staff and makers for their dedication, loyalty and effort. It's great to see all the hard work has paid off and that we're able to offer ever more people the opportunity to both start, and expand, their businesses."

Makers' Emporium website
The Source website

Images: The Source

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