News Archive

Let’s take a look back at some of our best news stories from the past few years from charity days to Q and A’s in our news archive!

 

March 8th, 2018 – Spring Sip and Shop Evenings

Please fill in the form below to sign up to our loyalty system if you are not already a member & receive our emails. You can use the drop down selector to choose which location you would like to sign up to.

For the first time at Begg Shoes each of our stores will host an Exclusive Loyalty Members only showcase evening. Each store will have it’s own unique flare with different giveaways, promotions and even guest speakers. Depending on the store, you may sample skincare products, have a Gin tasting & more. These events are sure to a great evening for all. But you must be a member of our loyalty rewards scheme to receive your invitation. Please sign up on the form on this page if you are NOT ALREADY a member of the Begg Shoes Loyalty Rewards Scheme. If you’re unsure, feel free to fill in the form just in case.

More information on each stores event is listed below & will be updated closer to the time. If you’re on Facebook it would be great if you could let us know if you’re coming. There is a link to each stores Facebook Event below as well. This will be handy for us to know how many bottles of Prosecco to get :-)

We have over 50 pairs of shoes to giveaway from your favourite brands such as Skechers, Converse, Superga, Lotus, Gabor and Ecco!

Kirkwall – 19th April
We have 6 pairs of shoes to giveaway on the night from Converse, Lotus, Rieker, Skechers and 2x Begg Shoes vouchers.

Elgin – 19th April
We have 6 pairs of shoes to giveaway on the night from Superga, Gabor, Lotus, Rieker, Remonte and Ecco.

Elgin – 19th April
We have 6 pairs of shoes to giveaway on the night from Converse, Lotus, Rieker, Skechers and 2x Begg Shoes vouchers.

Perth – 25th April
We have 6 pairs of shoes to giveaway on the night from Superga, Peter Kaiser, Lotus, Rieker, Remonte and Skechers.

 

August 31st, 2017 – Footwear Retailer of the Month

How did you get into footwear? Tell us about your background and your current business?

I started selling shoes in our shops at 12 years old!  Following University I furthered my education and became a chartered accountant.  After having enough of accountancy, I worked in corporate finance for an investment bank.  After doing that I felt I’d rounded my skills and took the opportunity to join the business when we acquired several of DE Shoe’ stores in 2013.

2. Where are your premises located and how many people do you employ? Do you have a high turnover of staff? Tell us about your shop(s), the local area, your customers  and their requirements? 

We’ve got 9 shops located all over Scotland and have approx. 50 staff.  Our staff turnover is good and nearly all changes are due to personal circumstances changing which unfortunately, cannot be helped.  The area we cover is vast in terms of size so tastes vary greatly, there high demand for patent and “bling” in some areas and welly boots in others!  Being the only shoe shop on two Islands means we are the go-to shop for all age groups in some locations.  It makes buying challenging at times but is certainly interesting.

3. Do you have an online shop/website and do you use social networking for business?

Our website – www.beggshoes.com – is going from strength to strength after launching in 2014.  Social media is important to us, we’ve got all the common social networks covered

4. How are you finding the footwear market currently?

We’re finding the footwear market challenging.  Some areas are performing better than others but no doubt customers are spending less on their shoes and are fussier than they have been in years gone by.  We feel political uncertainty combined with the oil crisis are the cause of this.

5. What’s selling well? Any particular trends? Which are your best selling footwear brands – and why?

We’re still quite early in the Spring/Summer season and the forecast is for snow so sandals haven’t moved much yet for us.  Seasonal colours in trainers/casuals have been really strong as a transitional product.  Best performing brand for us has probably been Clarks.

6. How important is shoe fitting to your business? Are you or any of your staff members of the Society of Shoe Fitters?

I am a member of the SSF and we now have 10 qualified shoe fitters in the business with another 4 currently going through their qualification.  We believe having staff that can advise a customer on a professional level is an important point of differentiation for us over our local competition and obviously, the internet.  Our hope is that customers will value our expertise and advice and keep returning to us for their shoes.

7. Does your shop sell other items besides footwear, bags, gloves, tights, socks, below the ankle products?

We’re very much focused on selling shoes these days.  Accessories are nice add-ons but can be time consuming to organise effectively.

8. Do you use an EPOS (retail technology) system in your shop(s)?

Thankfully my father is a computer programmer so has built our own bespoke EPOS system – it makes life nice and easy when we want to change/tweak something!

9. Any difficulties/problems?

Acquiring several DE stores has brought exciting changes for Begg shoes, representing a move in the right direction but it has also came with new challenges.  Managing the larger staff team and ensuring they are aligned with our values and trained to deliver excellent customer service has been a challenge but something we continually strive to improve.  We have a great team working for us and with the recent growth of our management team we will continue to work closely with our team to ensure we offer the best possible experience to our customers.

10. Any tips on stock offers, novel ideas for clearing lines or advice for independent shoe retailers who might be feeling the pinch?

Keeping control of stock levels is key for all independents and when volumes go down, you’ve got to make sure you do not try to buy your way out of the problem.  We’ve seen a lot of businesses get into trouble because they are buying more than is required.

11. What is your favourite men’s footwear brand/manufacturer – ditto ladies/children’s brand – and why?

Men’s – personally I like Ecco for their comfort & durability. Fashion wise they could improve but they do have a few good looking styles.

Women’sWonders – beautiful shoes made with love in Spain!

KidsPrimigi – they are popular with parents due to their quality and value and the styling is standout.

12. How do you select your products – which criteria do you use / what are your customers looking for?

We use a mixture of statistics, personal views and memory of good styles (& the bad!) to decide what we want to add to each shop.  Feedback from our staff is also an important factor we take into account.

13. Which footwear/fashion shows do you attend, how do you rate them?

We used to attend GDS but now go to MICAM as well as MODA.   We use Riva del Garda for sourcing MTO product.

14. Do you have a favourite footwear agent you can tell us about?

Steve (Heavenly Feet/Nordikas) – he presented the full range to us outdoors (minus 5 degrees!) in the middle of a Scottish winter – hardcore shoe selling!  Alan Bulloch is a good man but hasn’t braved the cold yet so doesn’t win! Sorry Alan!

15. Have you always had a passion for footwear? How many pairs of shoes do you own? Do you have a favourite pair?

I’ve got a lot of shoes and have been brought up from a young age speaking about shoes over the dinner table!  My favourite pair are brown suede Ara chukka boots that are very comfortable and look good with just about anything.

16. Any famous customers?

I believe Lorraine Kelly and Tilda Swinton are customers

17. And, the next step? Any plans for the future, new lines, retail systems/new technology, etc.?

My younger brother has just joined me in the business as we continue to bolster our management team in Inverness.  We’d like to expand further down south, potentially in Scotland or England, but would prefer to grow through acquisition rather than opening new stores.  Online growth is part of the strategy but it is a highly competitive market where Amazon are dominant and profitability is poor.

Footwear Today Article

May 19th, 2017 – New Flagship Shoe Store & Website

Bnew flagship shoe shopegg Shoes has opened a brand new flagship store on Inverness High Street. The new store is number nine for the family run business and showcases an experimental range of styling, technology and interior design while retaining the high-quality ethos of other Begg stores, showcasing leading footwear brands including Skechers, Converse, Rieker, Gabor and Ecco.

Last year the business celebrated its 150th anniversary, with over 30 years in Inverness on Union Street. The two stores in Inverness will continue together, but share little in terms of product, with each selling alternate products and brands.

Now under the stewardship of the sixth generation of the family, awww.beggshoes.com thriving online store has helped develop this exciting local business during a challenging period for retail (www.beggshoes.com).

Donald Begg explained: Our belief is that most people will always want come into a shoe shop to see, feel and try-on shoes.  If you can’t make it into town then our website allows customers a free click and collect service, free returns to store or free delivery to your house.  We provide first class service and have a great range of shoes to choose from so would urge everyone locally to check out the shops and the website.

 

 

May 8th, 2017 – Q&A with Donald Begg

Begg Shoes was recently featured in the Inverness Courier. If you’re not on Facebook or didn’t get the paper that day you can have a read here… Begg Shoes & Bags

Q. Tell me about your business and why people should choose you.
Headquartered in Inverness, Begg Shoes has become a leading independent footwear and accessory retailer in Scotland following growth in the number of stores we have and the rise of our website www.beggshoes.com. We go to great lengths to bring our customers high quality shoes from the world’s best footwear manufacturers.  This is backed up by a highly-trained customer service team instore and online. We have recently opened a brand new flagship store on Inverness High Street which gives us  the opportunity to showcase a wider range of products which we’ve never had the space to show our customers in the existing store on Union Street. We now trade from 9 stores from Orkney to Shetland and across the north of Scotland in Inverurie, Peterhead, Perth, 2 shops in Elgin plus the Inverness shops. Three years ago we launched our website beggshoes.com which is now our 2nd largest store selling our shoes all over the world. Our website offers a unique combination of genuine instore knowledge and support, with a huge variety of products from our nine stores.  Free delivery, free click & collect and free returns to any of our stores, all from the comfort of your sofa.

 Q. How long have you run the business and what inspired you to start?
The business was founded in 1866 and is now the hands of the 6th generation of the Begg family. I joined the business over just over four years ago to support the acquisition of DE Shoes’ five stores.  Working in the family business has been a rare opportunity for me to help transform a business that is no doubt now bucking the trend in an extremely challenging retail industry.  My inspiration has come from my father, Garek, who has had to overcome many challenges in running the business over the past thirty plus years.

Q. Who should be given credit for helping your business move in the right direction?
A step change in the development of the business came with Garek Begg – ‘Dad’ to me – who has worked tirelessly to seek out new products for our customers. Some of the brands he found many years ago were not the globally famous names they are now eg. Ecco, Gabor & Rieker!  He has always been at the forefront of finding new things and making changes that have kept us up with the times.

Q. What would be the first thing you would tell a stranger about your business – in just one sentence of no more than 25 words?
At Begg Shoes we are passionate about quality footwear, style, comfort and service but don’t take my word for it, come and see for yourself.

Q. Describe the setback that you’ve taken the biggest lesson from?
Over the years Begg Shoes has faced its share of challenges, however the most significant has undoubtedly come from the internet. Initially many small businesses, including ourselves, feared the monumental technical challenges from internet for our traditional instore offering, where customers experience quality product and service first hand.

The internet has been a force for change and we have had to reinvent,  adapt and embrace the future. What we have learned is that we were we wrong to fear the internet. It has become clear from the success of our own online shop and Click and Collect service that our online customers value the high standards of service that we offer just as much as those who visit us in store. There is a great opportunity for small businesses like ours to reach a bigger audience without compromising on quality and service to get there.

 Q. What are your predictions for Inverness city centre for the next five years and what needs to happen for them to become reality?
Inverness City has been growing for some time and my prediction is that it shall continue to be a high quality tourist destination and vibrant shopping hub. We are just two stores among many unique and special shopping and leisure experiences on offer in the heart of the city and together, we hope to continue to draw people to Inverness.

In order to maintain and improve on what we see here today, there are major challenges for the government and local authority to face. From a retail perspective ease of access to the city centre should be a top priority; making it easy for people to travel here, to park and to see the best of our city.

 Q. Who has been the biggest influence on you personally in terms of business?
Undoubtedly my Dad, who has managed the business for the last 30 years and has created a truly unique and exciting business to be part of, with a platform from which we hope continue to grow in future

Q. What are the three characteristics that you think are most important to a business and why?
A great business must offer the best possible experience to their customers and there are three key characteristics of a great business: 1. Excellent customer service 2. Offer high quality, unique range of products which represent good value for money 3. A hard working, skilled and enthusiastic team working to deliver 1 and 2.  At the end of the day, a business is only as good as its people.

 Q. What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve received?
Try to seek marginal gains, improve every attribute in every possible way – even just a little – and it all adds up to success

Q. What would be your top tip for a new recruit? 
You have a great team around you – listen, learn everything you can and have fun!

Q. What was your first job?
Playing football for Caley Thistle where I signed a professional contract at 16. Unfortunately, I only lasted a year, having had my second knee surgery in under a year.  It was a great experience for someone of my age.

Q. What is your dream job and why?
A helicopter pilot!  I’d love to be able to fly places!

Q&A completed by ……Donald Begg (Director at Begg Shoes & Bags Ltd)

Phone – 01463 239 189

Email info@beggshoes.com

 

May 1st, 2017 – Opening Night of new Begg Shoes

Wow! What a whirlwind the past few weeks has been with the opening of our new shoe shop in Inverness. On Thursday the 27th of April 2017 at 6:00pm the Begg Family held the Grand Opening of their new store in Inverness. As part of the celebration they cut the Ribbon which officially opened the store.

The great evening would not have been made possible with our customer and suppliers and so we have a few “thank you’s”…

Thank you to everyone who came and all our supportive customers, we look forward to bringing you beautiful high quality footwear for many years to come.

Thank you to all our suppliers, especially those who supported us with fantastic goodie bags & prizes for the Public Grand Opening which was in store on Friday. They are: ECCO, Rieker, Remonte, Ara, Gabor, Skechers, Clarks, Tamaris, Padders, Lotus, CAT, Fiorelli, Kipling, Ruby Shoo, Shetland Tweed, Wonders, Reisenthel, Marco Tozzi, Legero and Laura Vita.

The evening was off to a great start with the Begg family mingling while everyone enjoyed a glass of Prosecco. Around 6:30 everyone gathered outside for the official cutting of the ribbon to which Mr Begg Snr who was the last of the Begg’s to make shoes took the honour of opening the new store.

Once the ribbon cutting ceremony was done, everyone gathered back inside for a few words from Garek Begg and the lucky draw. Well done to our 4 winners who won them selves a pair of ECCO Shoes, a pair of Rieker Shoes, a pair of Remonte Shoes and lastly was the great prize of Clarks Summer Shoes for a family.

For those who missed what Garek had to say, you can have a read here…

“I could only guess what my Great, Great Grandfather would have said on an evening like this, but for all of us opening a new shop is always a special occasion and none more so than our first ‘prime site’ here on Inverness High Street. We have been told on numerous occasions ‘That’s a brave move’ – especially in light of the challenges facing retail all over the country, but footfall is everything for us and its really exciting to locate in such a bustling area of the city!

We have our challenges though and the shoe trade is not for the faint hearted. Over 150 high profile shoe shops have closed just in the last month including names we all know – Brantano, Jones and others. It’s fair to say that ‘bricks and mortar’ trade has to fight for survival but I believe our knowledge sets us apart. We know shoes, we know retail and it is our canny approach and winning team that will  keep us going.

Most of you will know we have a WEBSITE but it’s NOW our 2nd biggest store! We had a website before but we didn’t work at it and a website needs a lot of work to help it succeed. Donald, leading the 6th generation of the family into the business, has been the driving force in changing this. We are nearing the front of the pack online for our range of high quality brands and you’ll find us ‘Page 1’ for many Google searches – where we sell in Euro, Dollars and all across the world. Constantly challenging ourselves to improve and achieve has been a roller coaster! Getting shops & website working truly together requires continuous vigilance and I believe we are now a fully integrated retail businesses.

We have a dedicated team in the office including Emma, James and Stuart. Alongside them in the office are Craig (web & photo) and Cheries (marketing & web) who have organised this fantastic opening evening. All of our team work tirelessly to maintain our high standards of service and solve the inevitable issues. At this point Delighted to introduce second son Gaven – who joined us last week following a career in Accounting & Corporate Finance – there’s more than enough work to keep him buried.

Back to our new store: Our belief is that people will always need a shoe shop. In-store you can try on alternatives, see, feel and touch the products and experience genuinely friendly and knowledgeable customer service. The Eastgate store product offering will be more fashion forward and differ from our Union Street store. This will continue to evolve, while both shops are well on track the future looks promising! Our new store has been set up from scratch for the challenging future of retail. We hope you agree it is simple, elegant and we have designed it to be as energy efficient and adaptable as possible.

Nikki has taken charge here moving from the original shop, which will now be the test bed of any of our new ideas. We are introducing some great new quality brands like Alpina, IMAC, Ambition, Laura Vita, Regarde Le Ciel, Fly London etc. Such a prominent site gives us the opportunity to show you something new and hopefully exciting in years ahead. We’re frequently asked about restarting kids shoes and will consider this but need everything running optimally here before we can make that call – we will continue to sell kids shoes in 5 of our other stores and online for now.

If your size is missing here in the store (which happens) most of our stock is online – so you can filter and find, browse & buy from home, mobile or instore with our team which adds a new dimension for us. You can choose to click & collect or take advantage of free home delivery but ultimately if you have any problems it will be our dedicated customer service hotline that comes to your aid – not a call centre – rather the highly experienced team down at our Union Street store that will pick up the phone! We now operate our own photo studio, in which Ellen has been producing top class images for our website.

Another important innovation for us has been the brilliant Loyalty Scheme – it is simple – no cards – members don’t need receipts and we offer a generous voucher scheme to reward our loyal customers.

I’ve put together what I hope is and interesting slide show which has some images from the business both historic (since 1866) right up to the minute. You’ll see my grandad’s workbenches & machinery where he actually made shoes and where my Dad (Andrew Begg, the fourth generation) learned the trade & I spent my school holidays repairing shoes. Dad and Mum were the torch bearers for the period before I (Garek Begg, fifth generation) came into the business and I know they will love seeing and explaining any of the older pictures, if you are curious.

I don’t have a slide with the 6th generation (Donald and Gaven Begg) but they are here tonight anyway!

Going through the pictures, I’d forgotten just how much we’ve evolved and achieved in the last 4+ years – since we took over the DE shops – let alone since I came fully into the business in 1983.

Here in Eastgate, back in December we started with cold, leaking, unheated shop with dry rot amongst many other issues. Thanks so much to everyone particularly the team of quality tradesmen and suppliers without who’s brilliant efforts we’d still be struggling to get the shop opened.

Last but not least I’d like to thank you all for making the time to come here tonight and giving us all the opportunity to meet this evening. I hope you agree we’ve brought this place back to life!”

Begg Shoes History

 

April 25th, 2017 – Grand Opening Inverness Shoe Shop

The Begg Family have the honour of inviting you to the GRAND OPENING of their new Inverness Shoe Shop on Friday the 28th of April from 9:00-17:00.

After many months of planning and preparation we are very excited to officially announce the opening of our new shoe shop in Inverness. Begg Shoes Eastgate promises to be an exciting location and due it is updated style we promise to bring you beautiful collection of womens shoes and mens shoes. From young to old you’ll find something at Begg Shoes…

Just watch this space!

Although we have opened our new shop on the High Street in Inverness, our existing Inverness Shoe Shop on Union Street remains open. So for those who are comfortable & familiar with it, not to worry, that location, collection of shoes and staff remain for your shopping pleasure.

Fantastic Giveaways

Thanks to some amazing support from our brands we have some great giveaways & prizes valued at over £800 to be won for all customers who spend £50 or more in store on Friday 28th April.

There will also be some lucky draw prizes, so pop into the shop on Friday & enter. The winners will be randomly selected at 5pm.

We also have 36x 10% OFF your next purchase vouchers.

SKECHERS SHOES

Who doesn’t need a new pair of Skechers, if you are the lucky winner you get to choose any pair of Skechers as your prize!

FIORELLI HANDBAG

Pop the balloon with the Fiorelli ticket and you get to take home this gorgeous Abbey bag in Fenchurch Blue worth £70.00.

ARA SHOES

Wow! There are 2 pairs of Ara Shoes worth £100 each to be won on Friday… Just got to find the right balloon!

ECCO SHOES

Ecco have become well known for their comfort and high quality materials used in their shoes and we have 1 pair to giveaway for our Grand Opening.

GABOR SHOES

Gabor have become well known for their comfort and high quality materials used in their shoes and we have 2 pairs to giveaway for our Grand Opening.

KIPLING HANDBAG

Kipling’s collection of handbags is very versatile and come in a variety of beautiful colours and patterns and there is one Caralisa Kipling Handbag to be won today!

PADDER SHOES

Padders are well known for their comfort and today one lucky lady and one lucky man can win themselves a new pair of Padders shoes of their choice!

REIKER SHOES

Rieker ladies shoes are known for being comfortable yet stylish and today there are 2 pairs of this fantastic brand of shoes to be won!

REMONTE SHOES

Remonte is the Swiss-German sister company to Rieker shoes which focuses on creating fashionable and comfortable women’s footwear and there is 1 pair of Remonte shoes to be won.

TAMARIS SHOES

Tamaris women’s footwear range consists of a variety of products to suit all styles and needs and we have one pair to be won. Whether you prefer pumps or sandals the choice is yours!

SHETLAND TWEED HANDBAG

Shetland Tweed is woven by craftsmen from Jamiesons Mill in Sandess, using 100% Shetland Wool and are designed by Fiona Begg herself and one lucky winner gets to walk away with a Shetland Tweed Large Grab Bag worth £120.00.

 

January 31st, 2017 – Summer Shoes 2017

Your Summer Shoes should not be an afterthought this season. Every day we are receiving new styles in from the various big brands that are available from Begg Shoes. The brands that have come in already are Clarks Shoes, Gabor Shoes, Ecco Shoes, Converse Shoes, Rieker Shoes, Tamaris Shoes and Ara Shoes. Without a doubt the lineup for this season is shimmer and shine with metallic colours coming through most styles and across all the brands. From full glitzy fabrics to a more subtle sparkle.

Lets hear now from our Inverness Shop Manager on what she thinks of the summer shoes 2017 trend…

“Well, Spring/Summer 2017 has finally landed! OK, maybe not the warm weather yet but the new products have, and are still racing through the doors every day. The latest new arrivals have appeared from Gabor, Ara, Ecco and Rieker – to name a few! Working in a shoe shop definitely has its advantages! From seeing all the new stock arriving daily, it gives us the chance to know the trends for this season and plan our Spring/Summer outfits… personally, I have already picked out at least 10 pairs of shoes that I can’t wait to buy and use for this season. Now I just need to find a way to pay for them all and hide them from my other half, oops!

Key products featuring this Spring/Summer 2017 are metallic, floral, and nude/neutral tones, in every style of footwear. From metallic trainers to court shoes, floral pumps to sandals, and from nude loafers to high heels and everything in between. So far for this season, some key items would be the ECCO Soft 7 floral sneakers, the Gabor nude court shoes, Legero metallic sneakers and Ara multi coloured floral/mosaic pumps. Sparkles on your sports inspired styles are a big hit too, team them up with your favourite skinny jeans with sparkly bling trainers for laid-back, cool style. Or, for work why restrict yourself to black? Pair your workwear with some colourful floral pumps for a more cheerful look. The beauty of all of these styles, colours and designs is that they are so versatile – the florals, neutral and metallic shades will compliment everything from skirts and dresses to jeans to workwear. Come down to the shop today or browse from the comfort of your own home and find your next pair Spring/Summer shoes – or maybe even more than one…”

Ballerina Flats
The classic ballerina pump is a staple item in any woman’s wardrobe and 2017 has some fantastic summer shoes for you with a large selection available at Begg Shoes.

Stilettos, wedges and more…
2017 brings in an a beautiful collection of heels from work shoes, stiletto’s for a night of partying or a low heels to smarten your look, we have something for you.

Casual, beach and strappy…
Summer 2017 is the season to redo your shoe collection as this seasons new trend is HOT! From smart sandals to casual beach flip flops Begg Shoes has your next pair!

“As always the spring and summer season fashion trends are focused on lighter colours such as whites, taupes, beige and pastilles.  Trends have moved away from a lot of floral prints.  We have focused a lot on finding shoes with a point of difference, be it the materials or the design of the shoe. Hopefully the range is an improvement again on last year as we continue to try to find shoes that our customers like and that fit properly.”
Donald Begg, Director of Begg Shoes

 

 

November 30th, 2016 – 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 siInverness Shoe Shopgnificant 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 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 councilors 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.”

Inverness Shoe ShopHe continued to explain how the changes in the business in the past 2 years have paid dividends:

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.

 

November 4th, 2016 – November Managers Meeting

Twice a year the managers from our 8 shoe shops come together for 2 days of assessments, training & team building. Once the busy buying season is over and before we all begin the mad rush into the festive season Garek, Donald & Fiona Begg bring the managers together to reflect on the past 6 months. They feel this is integral to keeping up the excellent service that we regularly get commented on and recognized for.

Day One

This winter our Managers Meeting took place on the 2nd & 3rd of November. Day One saw each manager spending time with the head office team.

James, went over all things related to stock control & accuracy.

Cheries went over some new developments with our website & social media.

Emma, went through some HR protocols

Stuart, covered our new deliveries & returns

Time was also spent with Garek & Donald Begg to over their 6-month appraisals for each shop while Fiona Begg went through presentations, displays & in-store planning. The time spent with the Begg’s is valuable to each manager for them to take back to their shops so that each one can continue to improve their service & standard in the retail industry.

After a busy day at the Begg Shoes head office, everyone headed to the Inverness Breakout Games for a fun team building exercise. We split into 2 teams with each team going into identical rooms, we then had to find and solve a variety of clues and puzzles to unlock a number of locks till we had the final key which opened the door. The winning team made it out in 38min with the other team not far behind with escaping in 42 min. This was a lot of fun and highly recommended. After this, everyone was in good spirits and headed to Café 1 in Inverness for a wonderful dinner. Donald, Fiona & Garek joined us all at the restaurant and a great evening was had by all.

Day Two

The second day of the bi annual managers meeting brought with it some training & review of the summer season. During the morning Donald Begg gave a presentation on a review of how each Begg Shoes Shoe Shop has performed over the past 6 months. After lunch an advisor from Montor HR Consulting made sure that each of the Begg Shoes managerial team are skilled, confident and effective to running their stores successfully.

Day at Head Office Gallery

Team Building & Dinner

 

November 4th, 2016 – Breast Cancer Donation

wear it pink posterRecently our Inverurie Shoe Shop held a Wear it Pink day in conjunction with the Breast Cancer Now charity during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is a worldwide annual campaign involving thousands of organisations, to highlight the importance of breast awareness, education and research.

During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Breast Cancer Now aimed to get as many people as possible involved in raising awareness and funds for breast cancer research to which Begg Shoes was happy to get involved with by wearing it pink for the day.

How did Begg Shoes Inverurie Get involved?

On Friday the 21st Hayley and her team from the Begg Shoes Inverurie Shoe Shop decorated the shop in pink for the Breast Cancer Now #wearitpink charity drive. Begg Shoes committed to donating 10% of all sales on the day to this great charity as well as collecting donations in store for the charity. We are happy to say that a total of £300 has been donated this year. Thank you to all involved who made this possible.

 

 

October 17th, 2016 – Press Release: CLAN Supported by Begg Shoes

BEGG SHOES PRESENTS CLAN WITH DONATION AFTER GIRLS DAY OUT EVENT
CLANThe heart of Kirkwall was transformed into a purple celebration on Sunday, 2nd October, all in the aid of charity. Organised by Kirkwall BID, and supported by almost 50 businesses, Kirkwall’s High Street was transformed into a ‘Girls Day Out’ in support of cancer support charity CLAN Cancer Support.

Begg Shoes Supports CLAN

Supporting the event was Begg Shoes, which pledged a percentage of sales on the day to CLAN. The company’s support resulted in £200 being raised for CLAN. Fiona Begg said Clan is a cause close to my heart as my father used this facility some years back while he went through intensive radiotherapy.  I will always be grateful for the tremendous support and help CLAN provides at the most challenging times.  As a business, we are delighted to show support for CLAN in Orkney which provides a vital service to outlying communities. We support specific local charities and this year we will also be donating the Kirkwall Carrier Bag Levy for CLAN to help in their ongoing work.
Karen Scott, CLAN Cancer Support’s Orkney Area Coordinator was delighted to be able to thank the team from the shop in person.
She said: “The support shown by the Orkney community to CLAN is fantastic. To see the whole area transformed on the day and to see so many local organisations getting involved was very special and I cannot thank them enough for their support.
“Each donation CLAN receives helps to ensure that the charity can continue to provide and develop cancer support services in the heart of communities, not only in Orkney but across north-east Scotland, Shetland and Moray.

CLAN - Girls Day OutAbout CLAN

CLAN Cancer Support is an independent charity that provides comfort, support, and information, free of charge, for anyone, of any age, affected by any type of cancer. CLAN aims to support people to reduce anxiety, stress and to increase their ability to cope with the effects of a serious illness.  Based in Aberdeen, the charity covers the whole of north-east Scotland, Moray, Orkney and Shetland. CLAN has a presence in Ballater, Banchory, Buckie, Elgin, Inverurie, Fraserburgh, Lossiemouth, Peterhead, Stonehaven, Turriff, Kirkwall and Lerwick.
For further information about CLAN Cancer Support please call (01224) 647 000 or visit www.clanhouse.org

Issued by Citrus: Mix on behalf of CLAN Cancer Support. For further information, please contact Jessica Murphy on 01224 439976 or email jessica@citrusmix.com or contact Susanne Shepherd, CLAN Cancer Support, on 01224 647000 or email susanne.shepherd@clanhouse.org

 

 

June 24th, 2016 – Leaving the EU – Shoe Prices to Jump?

How on earth can this impact on buying a pair of shoes, sandals or boots you may ask. The simple answer is – in more ways than you can ever imagine. The shoe trade has been globalised for many years now and was preceded by the rundown of shoe manufacture first in Britain followed by most of the shoe factories in more developed Europe. Nowadays, not only is footwear made all over the world (mainly in the Far East), but the components which go into making shoes are likewise bought and sold across many international borders – in US dollars!

We all think of shoes in £-Sterling our local currency however, virtually all footwear sold in the UK is imported and paid for in US dollars or Euros. The financial market jitters today following today’s BREXIT vote mean that shoes, along with most other imported goods, are definitely going to cost much more in the future.

The exception to the dollar problem could be the smaller volume, better quality end of the footwear market in which our business is involved; much of these goods are still made in Europe. However, the £ has so far dropped 5% against the Euro which means, that these shoes will not be immune to a price hike. Surely we won’t end up with borders tariffs to add to this but we can be certain to say there won’t be a better time to buy a new pair of shoes than now, at least not for a number of years!

This post was written by Garek Begg.

 

 

June 14th, 2016 – Retailers Cannot Sustain Current Levels of Business Rates

]Shoe Shops aren’t the only retailers who’ve noticed a difference. When challenging a Councillor (who shall remain nameless) about improving the availability of parking, reducing business rates and making the Inverness City Centre a more attractive place to shop he suggested we “get a website” as a means of fixing our problem of falling footfall.  Since then we’ve done exactly that and have largely given up hope of changing the mindset of Local Councils, Planning Officials, Politicians & Councillors in the towns and cities in which we trade.  It is a sad state of affairs

The recent news of BHS, Brantano & Austin Reed entering administration in 2016 will come as no surprise to fellow retailers who have suffered falling footfall for several years in combination with rising costs.  Some cost increases are part and parcel of being in business.  However, in the case of business rates payable by retailers, they appear to have become the Scottish Government’s tool for increasing tax revenues without any detriment to the number of votes they will receive in their ballot box.  An easy target.  As with the oil industry, our “visionary” politicians have not looked at the long term picture and what is around the next corner.  In the case of retailers, they cannot sustain drastic falls in footfall in combination with a rising business rates costs.

What are “business rates?”
Business rates are a payment businesses are required make to Local Council’s for “services provided”, eg. Maintenance of the streets, lighting etc.  They should not be confused with the a business pays (or not in the case of Google, Amazon, Facebook etc!) to HMRC such as VAT, PAYE, Employer’s NIC and Corporation Tax.  Our business rates as a percentage of sales have risen from 3% in 2008 to 5.9% in 2015 – a staggering increase of 97%.

Why have retail business rates payable increased exponentially in recent years?
The fundamental issue is that there has been a drastic decrease in footfall. Town / city centre footfall decreases have been caused by:
1. Out of town retail developments – free and convenient parking at out of town retail parks has removed many shoppers from High Streets across Scotland.
2. Online Shopping – the internet has and continues to replace bricks and mortar retail with e-commerce.
3. Lack of availability of Town/City Centre parking – Most planners believe cars should be excluded from Town and City Centres.  As a result, streets are pedestrianised, parking developers (such as NCP) seeking to invest in new parking facilities are discouraged / prevented from investing, customers are given drastic warnings for breaches of stringent parking regulations.  The result is that a vast percentage of the shopping populous use their car to drive to somewhere convenient to shop.  Not everyone is going to use a bus or train to go shopping – it is naïve and idealistic to think otherwise.
4. Delayed Business Rates Review – The 5 yearly business rates review (where a property’s rent is compared to its rateable value at a specific point in time and reduced or increased accordingly) was postponed by SNP for 3 years in the lead up to the referendum “to give business more certainty”.  This means retailers are still paying business rates based on how retail was in 2007 – radically different to what it is now.  Like the Oil Industry crash, the rapidly changing retail environment is something the Scottish Government would prefer to turn a blind eye to rather than admit they made a mistake and correcting it.
5. The Vicious “Closed” Circle – shops closing and lying empty create a negative shopping environment for those that are still open.  At current business rate levels, most entrepreneurs would not take the risk of opening a new shop.  The result is units lie empty for years and the streets become undesirable for shoppers.  Empty shops lead to more empty shops unless action is taken.  It is a vicious circle.

How have retailers managed this to date?
The reality of many small businesses is that many owners are not earning the Living Wage and are struggling to survive.  Even a minor deterioration in cashflow could be enough for them to go bust.  Larger businesses are increasing the prices to compensate for level of business rates whilst building their online business to compensate for falling sales in-store.  In time, bricks & mortar stores will continue to close as it is far more cost effective not to have a shop and to just have a warehouse.  This will of course lead to further job losses and the destruction of the town/city centre shopping experience that many people enjoy so much.  The internet cannot replicate the touch & feel of products.
We have been looking at expanding our own business and have found business rates to be the major reason why we cannot open a new store.  In one case we found business rates payable would equate to 21% of our estimated sales.  The rental value of this property is currently £30,000/annum and the rateable value is £120,000.  In this example, business rates will need to be reduced by 75% before this property would become viable again.  The scale of reductions required is vas
If the Government & Local Councils would simply admit there is a massive problem and address it, they would find these empty units are filled by all types of business and customers would wish to come back and shop in bricks & mortar.  Vacant shops, charity shops and pawn brokers inevitably are not alluring to the vast majority of customers.  In many instances, overall revenue taken in by reducing business rates may actually increase if rateable values were drastically reduced as vacant properties and charity shops are not contributing as much as a long standing successful business would.  Added to this, a vibrant town centre will increase demand for property which in turn would increase business rates over the long term.

Why is this issue a problem for the whole of Scotland?
1. On the current path we are on, town centre retail as we know it will continue to be decimated and many more jobs will be lost.  Economically we are shooting ourselves in the foot!  The Government will stimulate much needed economic growth simply by reducing retail business rates to levels that are fair & reasonable.  We believe there will always be a vast amount of customers that want to touch, feel and see the products they are buying.
2. Pension funds have a great financial interest in Commerical Retail Property.  Vacant Retail Shops will mean drastic reductions in the value of our pensions.  In many instances we have seen Retail Commercial Property values falling by as much as 50% in the past 5 years.  This problem is chronic and extremely costly to many of us, even if we do not know it yet.
3. As all online retailers will concede, it is a highly competitive environment where very few are profitable.  This is good for customers in the short run but the private sector always demands survival of the fittest.  As such many online retailers will (or indeed have) gone out of business or must make profit in the long run.  Making profit means either price increases or the introduction of additional charges for customers.  In August 2015 John Lewis introduced a Click and Collect charge to compensate for the costs of their online operation, saying the cost base is “unsustainable”.  Many are now offering “free exchanges” as opposed to “free returns” – this of course is a clever means of avoiding the cost and hassle of providing free returns.  Next do not publish any profitability information regarding their online Directory business, much to the annoyance of financiers in the City.  ASOS, Ocado & Amazon all have profit margins varying between 1-2%, again financiers in the City are desperately pressuring these companies to become much more profitable.  Long term, we believe the bricks and mortar and online will have to fully align themselves with each other.  Amazon have already opened their first shop.  Shops will be needed as they are an economic and social requirement alongside the internet.  The big issue is that if shops are decimated by backward thinking planners and excessive business rates then we may not have any shops left.

In spite of the points above, The Scottish Government’s Draft Budget for 2016-17 plans to raise an additional £130 million in Business Rates this coming year.  Taken together with a further drastic reduction in the reliefs available to the owners of empty business properties, the delay of the regular rates revaluation to 2017, and court rulings which have restricted the capacity of businesses to appeal their rates bills on the basis of a material change in circumstances the outlook remains bleak.  The commitment from the Deputy First Minister to review of the business rates system in Scotland should be taken with a pinch of salt.  The Scottish Government has a chequered history in this regard. November 2012 was the last time the Government promised “a comprehensive and fundamental review of the rating system” but the resulting consultation has produced no meaningful changes to the existing tax. Indeed Scottish businesses are still awaiting the Scottish Government’s response to a further consultation on the rating appeals system which closed almost a year ago.  What will happen?  Something soon we hope!

This blog article was written by Donald Begg, Director of Begg Shoes & Bags.