A Middlesbrough retailer is bucking the national trend by opening a new and bigger shop.
Rajinder Singh has been running Home Savers, which was started by his dad Nappa in Dundas Indoor Market 10 years ago. He has now moved to a larger shop in the nearby Dundas Centre offering a new range of products to his customers.
Although the store, called Finishing Touches, will carry some of the lines sold in Home Savers, its main focus will be items such as furniture, lamps and ornaments – designed, he says, “to add that special something to your home”.
Finishing Touches is opening as more UK shops are closing. In July there were reported to be more empty shops – more than one in 10 – in town centres than any time since January 2015. Despite the worrying trend, 23-year-old Rajinder is confident of success and has signed a five-year lease. There is already a Finishing Touches shop in Stockton, run by Nappa, and its popularity has encouraged father and son.
“Even though we trade online as well, if people are spending hundreds of pounds on an item they want to see it, feel it, touch it,” said Rajinder.
Despite his dad’s attempts to steer him away from a career in retail, Rajinder has worked in his or his father’s shop since he left school. “It’s in our blood. It’s what we do and I’m now trying to take it a bit further,” he added.
The short move from the Dundas Indoor Market to Dundas Centre has been made possible by the support of the market manager David Harris and the letting and managing agent Dodds Brown.
“As a new business you get the support from the management at Dundas which helps you to grow and that’s why I stuck with it over the years,” said Nappa.
David believes Rajinder’s experience and determination will ensure Finishing Touches does well. “We’re delighted he’s chosen Dundas Centre for his new business and we’re confident it’s going to attract lots of shoppers, which is great news for him and all the other traders here,” he said.
The opening of Finishing Touches follows major behind-the-scenes work at the Dundas Shopping Centre and Indoor Market. Rajinder’s unit, which had been empty, has been extended. The size of its neighbouring shop – Miss Unique – has been slightly reduced and both have been refurbished, with new ceilings and lighting. Earlier this summer a £130,000 project was completed to improve the Wilson Street entrance to the centre and work is now underway to prepare the Home Savers unit for its next tenant.
“Everybody knows that these are difficult times for retailers,” said Richard Wilson, senior associate at Middlesbrough-based Dodds Brown, who are the letting and managing agents for the Dundas Shopping Centre and Indoor Market.
“But the scale of the investment – and a commitment to support the ambitions of tenants such as Rajinder – shows the confidence the owner has in Dundas and the traders who work so hard here.”
While Finishing Touches is the newest shop in Dundas Shopping Centre, a business with the same name is one of the oldest in Dundas Indoor Market. This Finishing Touches – run by Beryl Cochran – has been there for 20 years alongside two other stalwarts of the market: Jean’s Kitchen and Danny’s Family Butchers. As well as selling everything you need to decorate a cake, Beryl’s expert advice has come to the rescue of many novice icing pipers.