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Retail Matters

Sheffield City Region - Retail Hub of the North...

In this issue: New strategy aims to unlock retail growth potential Digital retail trends in the Sheffield City Region Digital developments at Drop Dead Clothing Teddy Bear retailer bringing happiness to the region Re-Making Rotherham High Street

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Sheffield City Region

Retail Hub of the North...

Welcome… Retail Matters This edition of Retail Matters focuses on digital retail, and highlights the extent to which the Sheffield City Region is at the forefront of the digital retail revolution. By 2025, it is anticipated that £1 in every £5 will be spent online, and it is therefore incredibly exciting and encouraging to see our retailers making innovative use of platforms such as social media to engage new and existing customers both domestically and overseas. Digital retailing was also the subject of our recent Retail Matters Conference, which took place in May at The Source Academy and was attended by over 130 delegates from 100 organisations. Speakers from organisations including Drop Dead Clothing, KNOWHOW and Powertext shared their invaluable insight on how retailers could utilise the digital world to benefit their business by improving customer service and implementing innovative marketing campaigns to generate additional sales.

Speakers at the conference also consistently reiterated that good digital retailing should be a complement, not a replacement, for traditional bricks and mortar retailing. Recent research has anticipated that bricks and mortar store-based retailing will continue to achieve reasonable growth of 27% between 2014 and 2025, and proclamations of the death of the high street therefore seem incredibly premature! For that reason, it is fantastic to see our local authorities investing in innovative initiatives designed to reinvigorate our high streets, and I am delighted that we are able to cover success stories emerging from The Makers Emporium in Rotherham later in this magazine. I very much hope that you enjoy reading the 8th edition of our Retail Matters Magazine, and will look forward to seeing you at our next conference in September.


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


Festive Insights, Forward Planning for a Successful 2014. Experian, 2013

Retail Matters Conference - 17th September 2014 The Sheffield City Region Retail Forum is inviting organisations across the Sheffield City Region to attend a free retail conference and networking event entitled ‘Retail Matters: Improving business performance by investing in staff as ambassadors’. The conference will be held on Wednesday 17th September from 1.30pm until 4.00pm at The Source Academy, 300 Meadowhall Way, Sheffield, S9 1EA. Speakers will include; Steve Harrison

Deli & Dine

Jane Rexworthy

The National Skills Academy

Mark Bruce


Michelle Osborne Virgin Holidays Sally Grant

The last Retail Matters Conference attracted over 130 delegates, 91% of whom rated the quality of the event, speakers and networking opportunities as good or excellent.

‘The Retail Matters Conferences are informative and inspiring’ Kate Shepherd, owner of Cocoa Wonderland.

To book your Conference place contact Emily Wright today on or 07889 810706.

If you are interested in advertising in Retail Matters or submitting an editorial feature, please contact us for further information. Contacts - Emily Wright - t: 07889 810706 e:

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Sheffield City Region

Retail Hub of the North...

New strategy aims to unlock retail growth potential From Councillor Eion Watts, Leader of Bolsover District Council, and Councillor Graham Baxter MBE, Leader of North East Derbyshire District Council

Since forming a strategic alliance in 2011, Bolsover District Council and North East Derbyshire District Council have undertaken several joint projects, but none that provide such a game changing plan as our new growth strategy, which was approved on 16th June 2014. Faced with further cuts in government grant funding, we needed something that would provide us with the income to become selffinancing and in turn stimulate growth in the area. The growth strategy does just that, providing us with a holistic approach to attracting growth to the area, and giving us the detail needed for specific areas such as retail development. Both our districts are rural in nature, so we don’t have a natural town centre to act as a magnet for retail development. However, forecasts suggest that wholesale and retail trade will be a key growth area in terms of employment, and this is an area where we feel we have considerable expertise to tap into. Town centre regeneration is key! If we can stimulate the local economy and keep residents spending in their local town or village, instead of travelling to neighbouring authority areas, then we are onto a winner. This strategy has been really successful in Clay Cross and Clowne, where we have attracted a large retailer and this has generated the desired knock-on effect of increases in footfall in the towns. This then attracts other retailers to come and invest in the area. We know it’s not a one-size-fits-all scenario, but we have seen how increases in footfall can attract smaller shops and independent retailers to a town, who are attracted by the additional customers and visitors.

Town centre regeneration is not the only focuses of the strategy, and we have identified several major employment sites for development. The Avenue in Wingerworth, Brook Park in Shirebrook, the former Coalite site and Castlewood in South Normanton have already attracted major retailers such as Sports Direct and the Cooperative, who have established regional and national distribution centres. Yet none of this can be achieved unless we become more business friendly, and act as the ‘front door’ for businesses. Retailers need to know where they can quickly and easily secure comprehensive support and information on things like grant funding and available development sites and skills in the area, rather than having to wade through mountains of paperwork and legislation, and we will therefore be working hard to achieve this. These are exciting times for us and we are confident that over time, we will see vibrant business communities that support and promote growth in towns and villages across Bolsover and North East Derbyshire. To find out more about our growth strategy, call 01246 242424/231111.


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Sheffield City Region

Retail Hub of the North...

Digital retail trends in the Sheffield City Region In March 2014, Experian, the leading global information services company, released the results of new research which revealed fundamental shifts in the way consumers are shopping. The research gathered data on the shopping habits of over 2,000 consumers from across the UK, and combined this with Experian’s online behaviour intelligence, footfall data and consumer spending forecasts to reveal some fascinating insights on how the online world is changing the face of retail in the Sheffield City Region and the UK. Here, Katrina Hann, Managing Consultant at Experian, discusses the key findings of the research. Katrina says, “Our research painted a highly encouraging picture for the future of retail in the UK and the Sheffield City Region. Consumer confidence is growing - we planned to spend more money in 2013 and actual sales figures support this. It is clear that much of this growth has been driven by increases in online sales.


We are now increasingly savvy at researching online to find the right product at the best price, using a multitude of channels including laptops, mobile phones and tablets, which 11% of respondents used as their main device for retail browsing. £1 in every £8 is now spent online, with online sales volumes growing by an astonishing 14% between 2012 and 2013.

“Yet it is also incredibly clear that, in a world in which we can compare thousands of items at the click of a button, customers still see enormous value in the high street and are still coming out in large numbers to browse and compare products in bricks and mortar stores. 61% of consumers in Yorkshire and the Humber say they like to touch and feel before they buy, especially for luxury goods. However customers do now look for an experience when they shop, and ‘retail theatre’ is a concept which is definitely growing - from free coffees, drinks events and dinner parties instore to wacky ideas from organisations such as COCO-MAT, who allow customers to nap in their beds and receive a free glass of orange juice on waking! “Yet whilst some customers will buy in-store, others will use this as an opportunity to test the product and buy online at a later date. ‘Showrooming’ is here to stay, but it need not be a problem for the retailer! The challenge is to convert this browsing into a direct sale, whether this be in store at the point of browsing, or online through competitive pricing, exclusivity and the quality of the products and service offered.

“All of our research suggests that retail still matters in the UK and the Sheffield City Region, yet it is also clear that retailers will have to adapt their operations in order to continue to secure success. In this new digital world, the customer is king, particularly due to the growth of instant feedback. Retailers now receive customer feedback courtesy of a multitude of omni-channel sources, and evidence suggests that those who have had a negative experience tend to be the most vocal. A recent complaint on twitter from a disgruntled British Airways customer went viral and surpassed 20,000 shares, demonstrating the growing might of the consumer. “We are certainly living in an ever-changing retail world, but this also provides a wealth of opportunities for the retail sector. By optimising social media as part of a multifaceted marketing strategy, paying careful attention to visual merchandising at flagship showroom stores,enlivening the store experience, and above all reacting to feedback to meet the needs of customers, Sheffield City Region retailers can thrive in this new retail climate”

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Sheffield City Region

Retail Hub of the North...

Digital developments at Drop Dead Clothing In 2005, Oli Sykes borrowed £500 from his mum to establish Drop Dead Clothing, with the aim of creating unique clothing inspired by internet culture and an ever evolving taste in music and art. In 2013, Drop Dead Clothing had over 3.7 million unique visitors to its website, with 30 members of staff shipping products to over 100 countries worldwide. Here, Anthony Donbavand, Marketing Manager at Drop Dead Clothing, discusses the secrets behind the organisation’s success.

Anthony says, “It has been fantastic to take such an active role in shaping the Drop Dead story since I started with the organisation two years ago. Oli started Drop Dead Clothing in his Sheffield bedroom, having found that he greatly enjoyed graphic design during his first year of college, and it just shows that anyone can use their imagination and the power of the internet to create a multi-million pound worldwide brand. “We have evolved considerably during the last nine years, but our innovative use of social media has always been at the heart of our achievements, and has provided us with a fantastic way of engaging our primarily young target market. The mediums which we use may have changed - from MySpace to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram – but the way in which we work to create interesting and engaging content which is intrinsically linked to our brand is still the same. We now have nearly 700,000 followers on Facebook, our average post is seen by 61,000 people, and 6% of our revenue is generated by customers visiting our site from Facebook. It is impossible to overestimate the potential of social media for the modern day retailer.

“We see enormous value in the high street, and now have two physical stores in London and Sheffield, which were established in 2009 and 2013 respectively and have really helped to complement our online activities. For example, earlier this year we hosted an event at our London store to launch a new Itchy & Scratchy Show Collection developed alongside Fox, who absolutely love the Drop Dead brand. We used pictures from the event to create some really engaging social media posts and blog entries, which then helped drive traffic to our website and generate further sales. In addition, by encouraging Fox to share our social media activity, we secured some fantastic exposure for Drop Dead and managed to quickly and easily reach a whole new audience. “It is an incredibly exciting time for Drop Dead Clothing on a global scale, and we will certainly be looking into doing more collaborations during the next 12 months. Yet we will always be intrinsically linked to the Sheffield City Region, as demonstrated by our recent promotions alongside Sheffield’s Tramlines Festival and our tagline as the Steel City’s Finest. We are incredibly proud to be part of the Sheffield City Region’s rich digital retail tapestry, and to play our part in helping establish the region as the retail hub of the north.”


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Sheffield City Region

Retail Hub of the North...

Teddy bear retailer bringing happiness to the Region Teddy bear enthusiasts Lynn and Barry established The Bear Emporium in 2002 at Ridgeway Craft Centre, as a relatively small unit selling hand made teddy bears produced on site. The business has flourished during the last 12 years, bringing happiness to teddy lovers across the world, and resulting in the development of a new range of ‘Steel City Bears’ which are connected to the Sheffield City Region. Yet, as Lynn and Barry explain, their bears are far more than just toys. of bears which is unrivalled in the Sheffield City Region and includes highly collectable brands such as Steiff, Charlie Bears, Merrythought and Isabelles. We have also developed our own range of hand made ‘Steel City Bears’, called Don, Lady Bower, Sheaf , Loxley and Full Monty. Each bear takes around 12 hours to make, and is adorned with our signature Sheffield Steel cutlery necklace around the neck. Our bears have gained quite a reputation during the last few years and are now considered highly collectable by teddy bear enthusiasts!


They say, “It has been wonderful to take an active role in the growth of The Bear Emporium. We established our own shop in Killamarsh, Sheffield, in 2009 and have amassed a collection

“We are incredibly proud of our in-store teddy hospital, where we repair and restore well loved bears. Some of the rarest teddy bears are worth thousands of pounds, and have huge sentimental value to their owners. One of our recent customers broke down in tears of joy after we had used our sympathetic restoration techniques to bring his teddy back to life, and we discovered the bear had been his only friend when he sought shelter in his air raid bunker as a boy. Stories like this are incredibly heartwarming, and are a huge part of what drives my passion for The Bear Emporium. “We have lots of exciting plans in place for the rest of 2014, and will be attending a number of Teddy Bear Fairs to help spread the word of our business. In theory, there are no geographical boundaries to where we could expand - we recently had a letter from a gentleman in Austria to thank us for repairing his teddy! Yet the true value of our business will always lie in our close ties to the Sheffield City Region. We have plans in place to develop two new bears called Porter and Little Mester, and will be sure to stay true to our Sheffield roots in everything we do, to ensure our region’s loved Teddy Bears are in safe hands!”

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Sheffield City Region

Retail Hub of the North...

Re-making Rotherham High Street There is something exciting happening in Rotherham. In the last edition of Retail Matters, Cllr Roger Stone OBE, Leader of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, spoke about how funding from the Portas Pilot initiative and High Street Renewal Fund was allowing the council to position Rotherham as ‘the independent alternative’, and develop initiatives such as The Makers Emporium. time scouring antique fairs for antique cutlery during the last few months to satiate the increased interest. As an antique lover, that has certainly been no bad thing!

Having opened on Tuesday 15 April 2014 to a fantastic reception, the Emporium is now offering 30 local makers, crafters, artists and designers a fantastic opportunity to gain access to flexible low-cost trading space, and build experience of trading whilst raising awareness about their products. Three months on, Retail Matters speaks to one of the Emporium’s makers, Terry Cooper, to find out how everything has been going. Terry says, “In 2012 I made an absolutely life changing decision to leave my job working in administration for a debt recovery agency, and turn my hobby creating unique items of jewellery and homewares from antique cutlery and wood into a full-time occupation. I established my own business, Tea Wear, and started manufacturing from my garage, using my imagination and engineering skills to breathe life and soul into items which had fallen from use. I began by selling my unique products at craft fairs across the Sheffield City Region, and demand was so great that I quickly outgrew the confines of my garage, and moved into a full-time production space in the Nichols Building in Sheffield.” “The Makers Emporium has been absolutely incredible for my business. Despite my initial success, I just don’t have the cash flow to fund my own retail unit. The Emporium has provided me with a low cost means of introducing Tea Wear to a far larger audience, and I can now list Mary Portas amongst my customers, after she bought one of my products whilst attending the Emporium’s launch event. I have been staggered by the increase in demand for my products, and have had to spend a lot more

“I have to credit Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council and The Source Academy on their vision for the Emporium. There are currently lots of towns and cities across the UK which look identical, and Rotherham is beginning to hark back to a time in the 1960’s and 70’s when independent shops were the norm, and the Emporium is contributing to that. There is a real sense of community amongst the makers at The Emporium, the vast majority of whom have met previously on the craft circuit during the last few years, and this network of mutual support has helped to spark lots of new ideas and innovations, not least for new products which I can develop!

“Having been born in Sheffield, and worked in Rotherham all of my life, I am incredibly fond of the Sheffield City Region, and of the retail heritage in both of these great places. I can’t believe how far my business has come during the last few months, and I am proud to be part of a dynamic and innovative initiative which is reshaping the high street as we know it, and helping to establish the Sheffield City Region as the Retail Hub of the North.”


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Sheffield City Region

Retail Hub of the North...

Meadowhall Centre Launch New Customer Service Digital Platform Every retailer will know the importance of customer service to their business. We spoke to Paula Windle, Customer Experience Coordinator at Meadowhall Centre to find out how they are finding different ways of listening to their customers: “Customer service is at the heart of everything we do at Meadowhall Centre, and every member of the team contributes to the customer experience, either directly or indirectly. For the past 3 years, we have embarked on a rigorous training programme whereby everyone in the business has been trained in the WorldHost Principles of Customer Service. This allowed us to benchmark our service offer and unify the focus on service delivery. However, we know we cannot rest on our laurels as far as driving service is concerned. We are keen to discover exactly what the customer experience is really like, and more importantly, be responsive to feedback which suggests dissatisfaction with our service proposition. We have recently installed a digital platform where our customers can upload comments

and score us on our customer service and other areas of the business. In essence we are able to gauge the customer’s experience quite literally as it happens. We believe that customer service is an area for continuous evaluation and improvement, and the most effective way to evaluate a service proposition is by really listening to what customers have to say about it.

Throughout the year we have over 25 million visitors to the centre, and we want them all to leave with a great impression of their visit and a desire to return to us, and if we haven’t achieved this, then we really do want to hear about it. “

Our aim is to provide a really great experience for all customers and visitors, as we know this is critical to the ongoing success of Meadowhall Centre. Our customers have high expectations when they visit us at Meadowhall, and we strive to meet these expectations in many ways including a great mix of brands, a wide range of facilities, an inviting dining quarter and high on the list is great service.


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Retail Matters 8th Edition  
Retail Matters 8th Edition