Rutherfords of Morpeth predicting a better year for high street retailers in the North East
PUBLISHED: 18:13 17 April 2012 | UPDATED: 21:16 20 February 2013
ONE of the owners of a prestigious North East department store is predicting a better year for retailers in the region as recession concerns begin to ease.
Rutherfords of Morpeth is an exclusive family-owned business in the heart of Morpeth. It has been trading since 1846, evolving through five generations of the Rutherford family.
It prides itself on its image as a 'lifestyle store', stocking exclusive women and mens fashions; luxurious home furnishings from candelabras to cushions; cookwear and shoes, cosmetics and handbags.
The department store is the jewel in the crown of a town that is rapidly becoming a major shopping destination, thanks to the opening of the new Sanderson Arcade.
Co-owner and buyer Mrs Jane Rutherford sources and buys fashions and homewear from all over the world, including Britain, Paris and Milan.
You'll find Rutherfords of Morpeth at 10 - 16 Bridge Street, Morpeth, Northumberland, NE61 1NJ. For more information go to www.rutherfordsofmorpeth.co.uk
Jane Rutherford, from family-owned store Rutherfords of Morpeth, believes high street shops in the region will emerge from the economic slump with brighter prospects.
Rutherfords, which has been trading in Bridge Street since 1846, evolving through five generations of the Rutherford family, has made a much better start to 2012 than last year, and expectations for the months ahead are at their highest level in four years.
Mrs Rutherford revealed the department store has successfully weathered the effects of the recession even though recovery has been slow, and they are now much more optimistic about their long-term outlook.
Rutherfords is now seeing more customers pass through its doors than last year, suggesting renewed consumer confidence and a bounce back for the North East economy.
Not only has Morpeth had to battle the devastating effects of the recession, there was huge anger over the disruption while essential maintenance work on gas and electricity mains was carried out on Bridge Street for 12 weeks up until the end of March.
At one stage, shoppers had to walk the entire length of Bridge Street just to gain access to Rutherfords, the town's flagship store, and there were severe delays for shoppers coming into the town due to traffic lights and a temporary one-way system.
Mrs Rutherford said: "Everybody knows the high street has had a hard time in recent times but we are more optimistic than ever about the rest of the year.
"We have experienced a higher footfall in the store during the first few months of 2012 than the corresponding four months last year.
"Things were very quiet at one stage last year but now things seem to have picked up, and are going from strength to strength. We are much more confident that business throughout Morpeth is on an upward curve.
"Morpeth is becoming a destination for shoppers, not only because it is a beautiful market town, but because it is offering high street names as well as individual shops headed by Rutherfords of Morpeth.
"We are witnessing more people coming to Morpeth even though the maintenance works had a damaging effect because of the huge disruption. It must have been very off-putting, but people are coming back."
Mrs Rutherford believes retailers must tailor their businesses to suit consumers' shopping habits.
To underline their confidence in an economic upturn, Rutherfords has just opened a new menswear department, stocking Brook Taverner, and its popular restaurant and coffee shop has undergone a dramatic revamp, while a new womenswear concession, Part II, will open later this year.
The store has also organised a special shopping day on Saturday, May 19, as part of its bid to lure more shoppers to the town.
Customers will be given a complimentary glass of wine while they browse and entered into a prize draw to win a 100 shopping voucher when they spend over 20 in the store.
Stylists will be on hand in the womenswear department on the first floor to offer free advice on putting together a holiday wardrobe and accessories, while brides-to-be can receive free advice on wedding make-up in the cosmetics department on the ground floor.