New Inverness Shoe Shop
GOOD NEWS FOR INVERNESS CITY CENTRE
Celebrating it’s 150th Anniversary this year, Begg Shoes is delighted to announce the acquisition of 12 Eastgate, Inverness, which formerly traded as “Ortak” which will become a new Inverness Shoe Shop. The news is positive in that it will see significant investment in a City Centre property that has now been vacant for nearly 3 years and has been one of the many eye-sores in Inverness. The Begg family have continued their expansion in bricks and mortar shoe retailing by acquiring the property. The development comes at a time when retailers are increasingly seeking to reduce the bricks and mortar presence and focus on e-commerce. Donald Begg, explains the why their strategy goes against the grain of most retailers:
“We’ve seen a continued decline in footfall in most of the towns in which we trade, the exceptions are in towns or cities where parking is readily available, the selection of shops and cafes is attractive to consumers and/or there is a vibrant tourist trade. We feel the availability of parking in Inverness could be a lot better and hope politicians, planners and councillors will act but in the absence of that ever happening, we feel Inverness’s prime sites can still have a strong retail sector which is why we have invested in the new store. This owes predominantly to there being a clear uplift in tourism and visitors to Inverness. What is the cause of this we cannot be clear but longer term, with accessibility to the Highlands improving with the duelling of the A9 and major investment coming soon in renewables we think Inverness will have a strong economy provided political invention doesn’t put a spoke in the works. Investment in the City Centre, combined with improved parking facilities will be critical to Inverness getting out of this rut.
“Next year, the April business rates revaluation should provide a massive boost to City Centre retailers as we believe business rates will fall in the region of 20-40% across the board (to reflect the massive declines in footfall and revenues since 2008). This will encourage new entrepreneurs and businesses to open up, with them customers will be enticed back into Inverness. Karaoke bars, tanning salons, charity shops and vacant units are not terribly alluring to most. We have suffered unjustified business rates for years and this is a major cause of all the closures (like Poundstretcher and many others). All stakeholders need to grasp the importance of business rates in this debate. Trends towards e-commerce are not the main cause of the demise of many businesses over the past 5-10 years. Business rates need to reflect footfall and parking needs to be affordable and accessible.”
Our business is going from strength to strength. Our website – www.beggshoes.com – is now our biggest store – sales have increased by over 200% on last year. In the stores, we are seeing a broadening customer demographic as new brands like Converse, Skechers, Bugatti, Timberland and Merrell have introduced a younger customer to our stores and have better aligned us with changes in fashion and trends.
The final piece of the jigsaw has been down to our focus on providing specialist Shoe Fitters as a free service to our customers. This has also proven to be a big hit since we started working with the Society of Shoe Fitters earlier this year. Our staff have gone through a 5 month course, it is far more onerous than courses provided to staff by the likes of Clarks. We now have 9 Professional Shoe Fitters in the business and this count is growing. Customers can trust the advice and service we give. These days in retail, truly knowledgeable and helpful service is a rare thing but something we value greatly.
We look forward to welcoming you all to our new Inverness Shoe Shop soon.