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Retail Matters

Retail Hub of the North...

In this Issue: Welcome An Overview of the LEP Retail Matters Conference - 20th June Focus on…Ecclesall Road Once Upon a Time… Boiled Frogs or a Thriving Business?

Photo taken by Joe Armitage at BoneShaker Photography

Customer Service is the Key Staying Ahead of the Times That Vintage Feeling

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Welcome… Retail Matters Welcome to the second edition of Retail Matters. April and May were fantastically busy months for us, launching the Retail Matters conferences and also the magazine. Both have been really well received, with local businesses across the region desperate to share their exciting news with our readers. Last month we launched our first event with some inspirational speakers including John Graham from Go Outdoors, Gilbert Vasey from Specsavers, Darren Pearce from Meadowhall and Ben Still from The Sheffield Region Executive Team. Our second event will not disappoint and we are welcoming more retail talent to the stage. Our sole purpose behind Retail Matters is to highlight the importance of retail to the region, demonstrating that it really does offer great benefits. The retail sector is Sheffield’s second largest employer, providing jobs to 30,600 people (nationally retail is the UK’s largest private sector employer, employing almost three million people). The retail sector also supports other sectors such as construction, transport,


food processing and business services. Not only that, retail makes a significant contribution to the economy (nationally retail sales totalled £303 billion in 2011, equivalent to 20% of the UK’s GDP). It’s impossible to deny the exceptional opportunities that the retail sector offers for the whole region. Our mission for the region is to become the Retail Hub of the North; creating jobs, attracting visitors and driving growth. Let’s watch this space and see what the next few months bring.

Ann Cadman Vice Chair of the Sheffield City Region Retail Forum and Director of The Source Skills Academy

Retail Matters Conference – 27th September 2013 The next Retail Matters conference will be held on Friday 27th September at The Source Skills Academy 10am – 12pm. We have some fantastic speakers at the event looking to share their retail experiences. Please keep an eye on The Source’s website for announcements.

The event is set to be really inspiring, offering some golden nuggets of information to apply to any retail business. For further information or to book your ticket, contact Eleanor Spence on 0114 263 5602 or email

If you are interested in advertising in Retail Matters or submitting an editorial feature, please contact us for further information. Contacts - Sophie Taylor - t: 0114 263 5667

m: 07827 852 504


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An Overview of the LEP from Ben Still, The Chief Executive of The Sheffield Region Executive Team

“The Sheffield City Region was among the first LEPs to get Government go-ahead in October 2010. The Government sees LEPs as a key means to facilitate economic growth and rebalance the economy. “The Sheffield City Region was among the first LEPs to get Government go-ahead in October 2010. The Government sees LEPs as a key means to facilitate economic growth and rebalance the economy. LEPs have great potential – through giving a strong voice to the private sector and access to power in Whitehall. LEPs represent an opportunity to harness the best of the public and private sectors, give a private sector perspective on how to cut through red tape, and help deliver initiatives that truly matter for local people. The Sheffield City Region LEP covers an area which is home to almost 1.8 million people with a GVA of £25bn - an economy greater than many European countries! The Sheffield City Region LEP’s vision is about targeting specific areas where it can add value over and above what local authorities,

Chambers and other organisations are already delivering. Key to this is genuine private/public collaboration and market intelligence to business and growth. “The LEP can only be successful if it understands business needs from the key market sectors in the city region. To this end the LEP has established Sector Growth Forums for key sectors which act as a voice for key opportunities for growth in that sector. The LEP’S Economic Overview highlights 9 key sectors for driving the economy”. The LEP ambition for retail is: “To develop the Sheffield City Region as the premier shopping area of choice in the North of England. This will be realised by the City Region developing a national reputation for diversity of offer, dynamism, and excellent customer service” (2013 revised Economic Overview).

The retail sector in the city region is both a large employer and a direct source of entrepreneurial and growth focused activity. A vibrant retail sector is also a great advert for the city region. So the LEP Board is working with the retail forum to focus on growth, vibrancy and a productive sector.”

The Importance of the Retail Sector in the Region from Richard Wright, Executive Director at Sheffield Chamber of Commerce

Retail is Dead!! At least you'd almost think that listening to some of the news these days. We can't pretend its easy, especially as individual spending power reduces, but then hasn't business always been thus? I am not one of those guys who supports the theory that online is a threat either. It’s a change I agree but then the world will continue to change around us and we have to change with it. Embrace online and see it as a opportunity. People will still buy stuff! I really like the retail strategy for the Sheffield City Region developed by the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Retail Forum because it shows how a joined up approach and a wider view can play to all our strengths and offer opportunities for all of us. Make no bones about it - retail is critical to our economy and it will continue to be so - but the strategy shows it could be so much more if we tackle the issues in front of us, rather than defend the indefensible. The strategy is ambitious - the issue is whether we are ambitious enough to embrace it. Sheffield City Region has a number of retail "hot spots" according to the strategy - they being Rotherham, Barnsley, Sheffield, Doncaster and Chesterfield town centres plus Meadowhall. All of these are complimentary to the region, non are exclusive of each other and

all need to continue to develop. The Sheffield Chamber will continue to push that view. Rotherham has made great strides in the last few years, so has Sheffield but in truth that has further to go still. All the evidence shows that we lose people to shop in Manchester and Leeds and its Sheffield City Centre that has the potential to stop that but we MUST get on with the Sevenstone investment now - not sometime in the future. Meadowhall remains a real asset to the region. Its offer is different (and must remain so) from the town centre locations but it brings real wealth here that would go somewhere else. The business rates it pays (that are huge), the people it employs, the money it invests in training would be a serious hole in our economy if they weren't there. But even it needs to keep developing and meeting future customer demand so we must allow more investment by it in the projects that are already on the table (NEXT, IKEA) - but they will not be the last. An ambitious region means we are ambitious in every area, not least Retail. I think some of us

understand that and have responded but I'm not sure that is common all over the region. The world doesn't owe us a living - we have to go out there and make one!! Retail is NOT dead - it’s very much live and kicking - its just got to respond


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Focus on…Ecclesall Road Sheffield City Region is an ever expanding area with pockets of exciting businesses welcoming shoppers into their innovative stores, sharing their quirky ideas and offering an exciting shopping experience. This month Retail Matters focuses on Ecclesall Road, a hive of activity offering something for everyone.

Ecclesall Road has grown over recent years to offer the best of both worlds for residents, with exciting independent retailers offering something unique and large retailers offering a familiar shopping experience for consumers. With ‘choice’ being the word du jour, our independents are thriving and customers have never been so diverse. Here we welcome two inspirational Ecclesall Road retailers to discuss their stories and how breaking the mould benefits both our customers and fellow retailers.

Once Upon a Time… leafy Sheffield, there lived two best friends, Kate and Anne, who were lucky enough to own their very own shop. Their shop wasn't just any old shop. It was an enchanted chocolate wonderland!


Kate Shepherd and Anne White met whilst studying at Sheffield Hallam University where they both took on weekend jobs in Cocoa. Towards the end of their courses, the ladies were offered a fantastic opportunity to buy the business. After ignoring advice from friends and professionals, they followed their hearts and went ahead with the purchase. How could they resist being the owners of the most enchanted shop in the world? Cocoa specialises in gourmet single estate chocolate made by small co-operatives as well as locally handcrafted delights, made by small family businesses. Kate and Anne are so passionate about their products that they've visited a Chocolate Factory in the West Indies and a Tea Plantation in the Yangshou Mountains, China. Kate said: “Cocoa Wonderland is hidden away from all the hustle and bustle of today's modern living, and we like to think that walking into Cocoa is like taking a step into the past. Packed full of treats with rows and rows of every kind of sweet imaginable in sparkling glass jars. And of course, exquisite chocolate!” Anne continued: “Customers visit us from far and wide, just for a little taste of Cocoa's magic, finding themselves lost in nostalgia and transported back to their childhoods.” So Cocoa isn't just any old Chocolate Shop, that's why they named it Cocoa 'Wonderland'. Over the past 7 years since graduating from University and taking over the business, the Cocoa ladies have transformed this tiny little shop into a

social hub. It is no longer just a place to pop in and to buy a luxurious treat. Cocoa is the place to make friends, escape, relax and unwind at one of their Tasting Evenings, Chocolate Lock-ins, Knit Club or Book Club (with a cup of their truly decadent thick Hot Chocolate!). Cocoa's expansion doesn't stop there; there are big plans for the creation of Cocoa's very own chocolate collection... watch this space! Photos taken by Amy Bartle

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Boiled Frogs or a Thriving Business? Paul Iseard bought The Famous Sheffield Shop on Ecclesall Road in 2001 with a passion to create a diverse shopping experience for customers. With more and more shops opening in the local area, Paul’s dream has become a reality. Here he shares his shopping passions and highlights the importance of responding to change in retail – who wants boiled frogs? “Take a live frog, put it in a pan of cold water and heat it slowly. The frog cannot detect the gradual rise in temperature, so it boils to death (please do not try it at home!) The boiled frog syndrome applies to any organisation that fails to react quickly to changes in their external environment. Kodak’s sluggish response to digital photography is a good example. I often think about the gradual changes taking place in my little saucepan of water!

Image: Copyright Victoria Butterell

My shop is on Sheffield’s trendy Ecclesall Road. Having lived in the area for over 30 years (as one of the many incomers from down South), I have witnessed gradual and relentless changes. Gone are the massed ranks of butchers, bakers, newsagents and grocers; supermarkets and convenience stores do that now. What remains and what has developed in our area is more interesting, diverse and exciting than what went before.

In the past ten years some fantastic new indie businesses have appeared and prospered. The owners have seen the opportunities in their particular niche, by offering service and product that supermarkets cannot. Alongside this influx, the best of the old-established retailers have just kept on going. The arrival of national brands such as Costa Coffee and Pizza Express has added to the mix. My favourite Saturday shopping trip takes me on foot to a brilliant set of local shops; one of two really good butchers, organic store for eggs, dried fruit etc, hardware store for bits and bobs, wet fish shop, choice of two bakers, organic fruit and veg shop, choccie shop for weekend indulgence, and any number of cafes selling great food in individually designed environments. The perfect antidote to the Clone High Street! Every penny I spend stays local. Nobody is in a rush and there is plenty of time to chat with friends, acquaintances and shopkeepers.

So what’s my point (as my son is constantly asking me in response to my musings?) Well, a few points actually. First, it’s not gloom and doom for independent shops. Second, there is a lot of new blood in the retail sector – most of the shops I mention above are run by people less than half my age. Third, independents should have no fear when the big chains move in; they are an important part of the mix and increase footfall. And finally, we will survive and hopefully prosper by keeping in touch with the changing environment. No boiled frogs here!”


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Customer Service is the Key People can be flippant about customer service but, for me, it’s key to absolutely everything in retail. Each person coming through that door is a very special person, and they need to be treated like that – both in physical stores and the virtual world. If you make everyone who comes into your store, shops with you online or calls you on the phone feel important, they’re going to spend money in your business. These people may have money in their pocket that they might spend, and even if they don’t that day, you want a return visit. Businesses that get customer service right see the benefits in their bottom line. Customers stay longer and they come back – which usually means more sales. Good customer service starts way beyond the first actual meeting with a customer. For a small business looking to improve customer service they first need to make sure they understand who their customers are and exactly what they want. Then they can: Offer customers the right products and services. We often see examples of small independent businesses who buy products that they like, rather than considering the customers they want to come through the door. Create attractive window displays and websites that entice customers in. Giving an excellent first impression is so important. Interact with customers in the best way for them, making them feel welcome and listening to them. Watch for people’s body language some might just want to browse, others like help. Be available to give them the support they need.


Make it as easy as possible for customers to find what they want, both in-store and online. Every member of staff should be like a personal shopper. They need to have a good knowledge of products and services, and an ability to match these to customers, to know what style of dress would suit someone, the best dish for a particular occasion, the perfect gift, right piece of technology and so on. Some retailers will now even let customers know where else they can go to buy something if they don’t offer it in their store.

Hello sir/madam how can I help? Would you like a bag with that?

Develop relationships, where appropriate. Knowing people’s first names can help to create a good rapport, particularly in small independent stores. Going the extra mile for people. Make it quick for people to buy. Make sure there aren’t long queues at tills, particularly during people’s short lunch breaks, and that staff behind the till understand that people’s time is precious. It can be so frustrating to have to wait, especially if there are people behind the till having personal conversations or going at a snail’s pace. Similarly, online order forms need to be as simple and straightforward to complete as possible. Offer an easy returns and exchange policy – particularly for online purchases. If customers know that they can return something or swap it if it’s not quite right, and that they won’t have to pay for this, then they’re more likely to buy in the first place. Handle complaints well - empathising with customers and using their feedback to improve things for them and others. It’s important to recognise that shopping is often no longer just about going into stores, buying something and going out again. It’s about the whole experience. We’ve been delivering WorldHost customer service training, and we’ve had so much feedback from people who have said: “It’s been amazing; it’s reminded us of the importance of customer service and how in turn that will have an effect on our bottom line.” We’re also working with market traders in Sheffield to help them to add an element of ‘theatre’ to the market experience. So that people aren’t just picking up some mince, or fruit and vegetables, they can also enjoy themselves and have a bit of fun if they want. For retailers who get customer service right, the prize is usually an increase in profit.

Enjoy your day!

Excuse me, excuse me

4 Ann Cadman Vice Chair of the Sheffield City Region Retail Forum and Director of The Source Skills Academy

what do you have to do to get some service??


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Hambys - Staying Ahead of the Times Running a business isn’t as simple as ringing the till at the end of each day; it’s so much more than that. So when you run an Antiques shop, how do you stay ahead of the times in business? Chris Hamby of Hamby’s Rotherham does just that. Hamby’s is a family run business which dates back to 1961, but owner Chris Hamby has not rest on his laurels. Originally a credit drapers, supplying clothing, footwear, furniture and decorating supplies to villages and ran by his parents, Hamby’s has received an over-hall over the last 50 years, moving into new markets to offer customers what they really want. Chris not only runs a successful footwear store, but also an antiques shop, both based in the heart of Rotherham Town Centre. His model is a unique one – he isn’t afraid to try new things. “I suppose you could say I’m an innovative type of retailer, in that I don’t just want to focus my business down one route, I want to try new things and be the best I can be in several areas. Both businesses challenge me in different ways, but my passion drives me to ensure both are a success. To me it is vital to stay ahead of the game, and I have looked into different initiatives over the years to ensure I do just that. Last year we contacted an Account Manager at The Source to help us develop the business further and grow our workforce. The Source had some fantastic suggestions including WorldHost customer service training and recruiting an Apprentice. I had no idea how recruiting an apprentice could benefit me, but it has been phenomenal. Taking on an apprentice has been a real eye opener for me. Our first apprentice in the Antiques Shop made such an impact on the way we work, taking on additional responsibilities above his job description that we decided to recruit a second apprentice to work in our Footwear Shop.


My best piece of advice for running a successful retail business is to never stand still. Don’t be reactive, stay ahead of the times and you will succeed. It could be anything from expanding into new markets, utilising different initiatives to grow your business or sharing best practice with neighbouring retailers; it’s all valuable for growth.”

Bringing a Vintage Feel to Rotherham Thanks to funding from the ‘Portas Pilot’ initiative in 2012, Rotherham Council secured premises at Imperial Buildings and launched its own Pop up Shop for would-be retailers. Incentives included rent free periods, flexible terms and help with fitout, which led to a flurry of enquiries. The 'Vintage Dolls', Louise Griffiths, Jessica Donovan and Debbie Stevens have taken advantage of the Pop up Shop offer to launch their new business, offering shoppers the opportunity to choose from some of the best vintage jewellery, clothing and furniture.

‘’This is one of a number of business support projects that has been launched following the confirmation of Rotherham’s Portas Pilot town status in 2012, with over 170 businesses already directly benefitting from the funding and the variety of projects it has enabled.’’

As Louise explains: “Vintage Dolls works on giving old items a new lease of life. The Mary Portas pop up shop has given us an unbelievably amazing opportunity to showcase our dreams and launch our small business.” Cllr Gerald Smith, Rotherham’s Cabinet member for regeneration says: “As well as bringing life back into empty properties and supporting local entrepreneurs, the project also aims to attract businesses that add to the overall retail offer which ultimately drives footfall and benefits everyone. Rotherham Mayor Cllr Dave Pickering buys items during visit to Vintage Dolls shop

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We have Apprenticeships available in: • • • • •

Retail Customer Service Marketing Administration Warehousing

• • • • •

Management Hospitality Painting & Decorating Brickwork Motor Vehicle

“All for employment, employment for all” 08

At The Source, we believe our Employables are the future for business. The Source offers various Apprenticeships for individuals who are looking for employment and not currently at school, college or sixth form. We also offer Apprenticeships for people who are currently employed and looking to improve their skills, so there’s something for everyone! Looking for Employment We have many South Yorkshire businesses looking to employ an Apprentice. The vacancies are full time and allow you to get paid whilst studying for your Apprenticeship. Our team of Tutors visit you and your employer at work to support you through the qualification and you may spend some time at The Source too. An Apprenticeship is a great start to any career and we have vacancies ready and waiting to be filled. You can apply for one of our fantastic vacancies at – just click on the ‘Job Opportunities’ tab at the top of the page for our live vacancies. Currently Employed Apprenticeships are a great way to gain a nationally recognised qualification whilst you work. Qualifications are available in a number of subject areas and can be tailored to suit you and your employer. Apprenticeships help you improve your skills, knowledge and confidence, giving you all the equipment you need for your future. The length of qualifications are a minimum of 12 months and can range to 2 years, depending on the qualification and level you undertake. Most of the training is delivered in the workplace at a time to suit you and your employer. This way our Tutors can assess you in your work environment and you don’t miss out on getting paid. We have qualifications available at different levels (level 2 or 3) to suit you and your development. You will also gain qualifications in functional skills and a technical certificate.

Employer Apprenticeships are a great way to develop the skills of a new employee or up-skill your existing workforce. There are a wide range of Apprenticeship qualifications available in a number of industry sectors to suit your business. As an employer you can become involved in Apprenticeships in two ways: Recruit an Apprentice Recruiting an Apprentice is a great way of expanding your workforce with new talent. Apprentices can develop their skills to gain a Level 2 or 3 whilst carrying out their duties in the workplace. Recruiting an Apprentice is as easy as 1,2,3: 1. Provide a job description 2. We advertise, interview and shortlist for your consideration 3. You interview and select the Apprentice to join your business. Once our Recruitment Advisors have found your perfect Apprentice and they are in post, a Work Based Tutor will carry out regular visits to support you and your Apprentice through their qualification. Up-skilling Existing Employees The Source also offers Apprenticeship courses for existing employees at all ages. Existing employees can develop their skills to gain a Level 2 or 3 qualification whilst carrying out their current duties in the workplace. You can even take this opportunity to expand the skills of individuals to take on new responsibilities. Up-skilling your existing workforce with Apprenticeship courses is a great way to: • Motivate your workforce • Increase productivity with a skilled workforce • Reduce skills shortages • Access tailor-made courses with your business/sector in mind • Succession planning

If you are an individual looking for an Apprenticeship, or a business looking to recruit an Apprentice, contact us today on

0114 263 6652 or email

Retail Matters Issue 2  

Take a look at the latest edition of Retail Matters. To contribute to the Retail Matters magazine or to attend our conference, please email...

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