Friday, April 26, 2013

News: How to avoid the high street slump


Leading Rotherham insolvency expert Paul Moorhead, of Moorhead Savage, insists there is still room for optimism in the retail sector despite a number of big names recently disappearing from the High Street.

The firm, based at RiDO's Moorgate Crofts business centre, has seen an increase in the number of calls from smaller traders in recent months but insists that they can prosper if they adapt to the rapid changes in spending habits and the other changes affecting all areas of retail.

"The people who are going to survive the economic crisis are the ones who are already positioning themselves for future growth, ensuring that any problems they face now don't become an insurmountable and terminal economic disaster," he said.

"There is no doubt that the high street is going to change over the next few years as larger businesses struggle to cope with the threat of online and the growth of cut price outlets.

"But there is always an opportunity for retailers to identify fresh markets and provide good service and great products for that market in order to build up a loyal customer base."

In Rotherham town centre, retailers have been taking advantage of funding from the Portas Pilot initiative to undertake training in areas of visual merchandising, gift wrapping, customer service and media and marketing. Many are following the major retailers and setting up online stores to compliment their physical stores, the so-called "clicks and bricks" model.

In a recent mystery shopper exercise, undertaken by the Mary Portas-inspired Source Retail Skills Academy, 48 town centre businesses and over 120 indoor and outdoor market traders were assessed and rated against criteria including signage, visual presentation, store layout, staff knowledge and service, communication, product knowledge, sales and customer service.

Of the shops surveyed, 11 businesses achieved Platinum ratings of 100%, with a further 33 businesses achieving Gold ratings of 93% and above.

Councillor Gerald Smith, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Development at Rotherham Council, said: "It's fantastic that so many businesses took part and the results were very impressive, as we anticipated they would be. Providing excellent personal service is just one of the ways in which we provide customers with that little bit extra.

"Shoppers are increasingly looking for value for money and know that when they spend their money in our independent stores they are buying quality goods coupled with expert knowledge about the products.

"Surveys have shown that Rotherham shoppers are becoming more satisfied with the shopping offer and are increasingly choosing to Shop Local and support our specialist independent retailers; the high level of customer service is a hugely important factor in that."

Paul Moorhead concluded that the correct advice as early as possible can lead to exciting new opportunities, adding: "It is the companies who make no arrangements with their creditors until it is too late to do anything positive who go under.

"Act early, seek proper help and there's no reason at all why a business shouldn't be one of the high street winners rather than a retail loser."

Rotherham town centre website
Moorhead Savage website


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