By Martin Walker
Psyche managing director Steve Cochrane has set an ambitious target of hitting the £10m-a-year mark after launching the company’s new eCommerce site.
The Middlesbrough designer department store boss, who founded the famous shop 33 years ago, says he wants to see annual sales jump by £3.5m within the next two years.
Psyche, which employs 71 people, is already exporting to all corners of the globe, with 25% of its current £6.5m-a-year gross coming from online sales from far flung places like French Polynesia and Belarus.
And Mr Cochrane is hoping a considerable investment in a new eCommerce platform, launched during a special event at the Linthorpe Road store on Thursday night, will help Boro’s best-known private retailer hit new heights.
He told Tees Business: “If everything goes according to plan, we’ll end up virtually doubling our turnover with the new website.
“I’d like to think by the end of 2017 we’ll be hitting the £10m mark.
“That’s the plan everyone has bought into, including the web team and Visualsoft, who built the new site for us.
“This is certainly up there as one of the most exciting things we’ve done. It’s just keeping ahead of the curve with technology, because it changes so quickly.
“If you don’t continue to invest in a website which is mobile-friendly and responsive with all the new bells and whistles, then you do get left behind.”
Mr Cochrane says Psyche already exports to almost every country in the world.
“There’s only a few countries that we haven’t actually shipped to,” he said.
“North Korea and a couple of places in Africa. It’s very, very exciting when you see that.
“Little countries like French Polynesia, Belarus or Afghanistan, small countries in Central America, we go everywhere, and all out of Middlesbrough!
“It’s already a crucial part of the business, with about 25% of sales coming from online, and the way it’s going, it won’t be long before it becomes an even bigger part of the business.
“It isn’t that our store isn’t growing, but eCommerce and our website is growing much faster.
“Unfortunately Academia isn’t keeping up with eCommerce. There are students studying marketing but nobody seems to be studying digital marketing, so recruiting in that area, particularly in the North East, is really difficult.
“It’s hard to get high quality eCommerce people here and it is holding us back. We’re currently looking for a digital marketeer, an image editor and eCommerce supervisor.”
As well as marking the launch of the new Psyche eCommerce site, Thursday night’s event was also raising funds for the South Cleveland Heart Foundation, to help buy MRI scanners to treat patients with heart disease.
There was a jazz band and singer performing live at Psyche, along with a catwalk show and a raffle and auction with a range of prizes including £500-worth of ladieswear and a gents made-to-measure suit.
Mr Cochrane says it’s rare to see retailers hosting this kind of events these days.
“I am a traditionalist!” he added. “Putting on something like this is so much work and is very stressful and costs a lot of money.
“We’ve been working on this for weeks, from rehearsals to recruiting models, build the stage, the lighting, sound, DJ and band etc.
“But I actually think it’s a nice way to get the community to interact with us. Years ago, shops used to put on fashion shows but it’s all died off now.
“We’re probably the only company putting a fashion show on this spring. There’ll be the odd one in the Autumn and run-up to Christmas, but we think we’ll be us in the whole of the UK doing this.”
Click here to see more pictures from the launch event.