North-east retailer La Cookshop of County Durham has opened a second store, in Northumberland.
Owner Keith Crowther has been successfully trading from a 500sq ft shop at 9 Saddler Street in Durham City since 1994. But last month he opened a second outlet, measuring 1,200sq ft, at The Milkhope Centre in Blagdon.
“I had always thought that one day it might happen… however, I’d stopped thinking about it when the opportunity arose and then I thought ‘why not?'” he said.
The Milkhope Centre is “totally different” to Durham City, he said. Started 27 years ago, the Centre is an award-winning conversion of traditional farm buildings on Lord Ridley’s Blagdon Estate in Northumberland, which is popular with visitors due to its location and setting.
“The Centre was ahead of its time in that it is an out-of-town complex of business units in a country setting,” said Keith. There are now 14 retail businesses at Milkhope employing over 100 people including a farm shop, cane and pine furniture store and clothing store.
“It’s a destination centre that only has independent, owned and managed businesses that all complement each other. And it has no parking problems: there are three car parks – and parking is all free!”
He pointed out that in contrast, Durham is a city with a split of university students, residents and tourists but it’s not as weather-dependent as Milkhope.
Currently both stores carry the same stock mix “though that may change as the strengths and weaknesses of the new branch are identified,” Keith noted. And, he added, that although it’s early days, “trade is as we hoped it would be and despite the weather, people are coming out.”