Begg Shoes & Bags

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…

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 [email protected]