A business support agency, B Supplied, has been commissioned by the Coalfield Area Committee to work with local traders in Houghton, Hetton and Shiney Row to help them increase turnover and encourage more people into their shops.
Ten businesses in Houghton, six in Hetton and one in Shiney Row have received support so far.
One of those to benefit is Hetton Fruit and Veg, owned by Dave Scott. He said: “The support we’ve received from the council and Brian at B Supplied has been fantastic, I can’t thank them enough.
“We took over the business in December 2012 and we’ve gone from strength the strength. Through the project we’ve received invaluable free advice and support, and made the most of the knowledge and experience on offer to us.
“As well as the advice, we also had a grant to pay for a new sign after we renamed the shop, and some signage for our new van, and they both look great. I’d tell any other local business owner to jump at the chance to get involved; it really is free support from people who know what they’re taking about.”
Hetton Fruit and Veg continues to expand their business, offering home deliveries in the Hetton and Easington Lane areas, and plans to employ more local people to enable them to deliver to more areas, particularly to those unable to get to the shops themselves.
Brian Jackson, from retail specialists B Supplied, has been working with the traders. He said: “We’ve been delighted with the number of businesses who have come forward to ask for support and we are hoping to help more. We hope to see some real improvements in their competitiveness and effectiveness, whether it is working in their own business or working together as a town.”
“The support we offer differs with each business, and so far has included advice on how to improve the customer experience, looking to see if the shops could be made more attractive or accessible, advice on incorporating online selling methods and financial management and marketing.“
Alongside the advice and mentoring, grants have also been awarded to some businesses where a need has been identified, including for new signs and lighting.
Cllr Dennis Richardson, chair of the Coalfield Area Committee, said: “We recognise the challenges facing businesses and we’ve made improving the local shopping centres in the Coalfield area a priority.
“We’ve got a great range of shops in Houghton, Hetton and Shiney Row, selling everything from everyday essentials to more specialist items. It’s vital to our local economy that we do what set out to do. It’s great to hear that businesses are already benefiting from support.”
Picture: (l-r) Dave Scott, owner of Hetton Fruit and Veg, Cllr Dennis Richardson, Chair of Coalfield Area Committee and Brian Jackson from B Supplied, at Hetton Fruit and Veg.