Diss is a small Norfolk market town where Taylor Electrical has traded on the high street since 1942. The store sells brown and white goods as well as a wide selection of small kitchen appliances. The core of its customer base are middle aged and older people for whom service and installation (done by Taylor’s installation team) are key considerations. Taylor Electrical also has a rental base which is getting smaller every year.
Taylor Electrical team have been looking to relocate and redevelop their small shop on the high street for over 20 years but because the price of property in prime retail locations was high, they found it very difficult to find something suitable. When a large souvenir and china shop – which consisted of three separate units – came onto the market in 2007, they decided to adapt these premises for their new store. “As members of Euronics we were offered an opportunity to do the store refit with their help and support. We wanted to benefit from the Euronics corporate image and the financial contribution they provide,” explains David Cotton.
Taylor Electrical is located at what is locally known as the ‘hell-fire corner’; on the same roundabout, next to Taylor Electrical, there is Bennetts with their low prices, and Hughes Electrical which has recently relocated from a different part of the town to the opposite side of the street. It is a challenging retail environment – not without advantages. “The roundabout is now the electrical centre of the town with customers often drifting from one store to another comparing products to prices. So we have to appear and be professional and competitive, “says David.
Facing all three shops there is a huge Morrisons store – with its own car park, which attracts a large number of shoppers throughout the day.
Managing the development process
The store development took three months. Taylor Electrical approached Resolution Interiors (the Euronics retail design specialist) at the CIH show in 2007 and subsequently David went to one of their seminars and invited them to prepare a design proposal. Both parties discussed the proposal in a great detail, with the store staff having their contribution to the discussions and their outcome.
“Before the refit begun we had to do a lot of building work to adjust the old premises to our needs, including putting the new windows in. This was a source of many concerns and time delays. Although the building is not a listed one, the whole of Diss is a conservation area so we had to go through a full planning process – getting the planning permission took over three months. Fortunately, we were in the lucky position of having two shops and didn’t need to interrupt trading, as we were still on the high street. We would be paying two rents, but we managed to negotiate a rent free period with the landlord for the length of time it took us to do the refit.”
As it is the case with most building projects, Taylor’s wasn’t an easy ride. “We had a number of problems. For example we found asbestos in the building which had to be removed at a considerable cost and this took some time. We also had problems with contractors installing the front windows.
“However, the cooperation with Resolution Interiors was first class. Whatever the problem we encountered there was always someone to discuss it with us and suggest a solution.’
CIH has strict guidelines regarding the store design and costing. The retailer receives a contract which specifies what costs are borne by CIH and what the retailer pays for. For example, CIH pays for the flooring but the retailer bears the cost of preparing the existing base for new floor; CIH pays for the signage but the retailer covers the cost of fitting the signage. “Anyone embarking on the project should read the agreement carefully to be able to anticipate the costs,” advises David.
What did they wish to achieve? “First and foremost we hoped to increase the turnover of the store. By increasing the range of stock and being able to present it more professionally we were able to do this. During the five months of the new store’s operation the turnover grew by 61% – on the same period last year. It should be remembered, however, that last year we were in a small shop and we couldn’t stock anything like the range which we have now, so we needed to trade better than during the last year to cover the cost of new rent and rates. We have also increased sales across the range.”
They also employed more people to work in a larger store; the staff headcount grew from two and half to four and half (this does not include service and installation staff). “The staff is very happy with the refit because the premises are more spacious; the old premises had very narrow aisles as we had to accommodate at least the basic ranges of products.
“We have also received many complimentary comments from the customers, commenting on how nice and professional the store looks now. It is now easier for them to move around and look at goods.”
David is pleased with the local publicity they’ve received: “We had an editorial feature in a local paper the same week we moved into the new premises, and we supported it with a double page spread of advertising so it worked well for us.”
The cost of the store redesign at Taylor Electrical was £70,000. However, David wishes to stress that a significant part of this were the costs of building work (the cost of the windows alone was £14,000). The store is approximately 2,000 square feet large.
David has a world of warning for other retailers considering the store development: “Be aware of local planning regulations because this may result in an additional cost and delay the process.”
Nevertheless they were so pleased with the outcome of this project that are already planning to redevelop Taylor’s main store in Beccles – again with CIH support. “We actually had to defer this one as Euronics could only assist us on one store a year. “
Investing in recession
“This was a good move – even in recession,” confirms David. “We are fortunate that our customer base is slightly older. They have higher disposable income and want the service we offer. These people won’t go without a TV set or a washing machine when the products break down or they need an upgrade, and we hope that they will come to us.
“Personally I am optimistic about the current recession. We lived through recessions before and they proved that the independent business comes into its own during a recession. Some factors are likely to work for us. For example, people will be staying in more and they will be investing more in home AV equipment. Some may consider renting these products which may stimulate our rental business.”