Derbyshire cookshop owner Roger Lownsbrough is taking the opportunity presented by an expiring lease to move his whole operation online.
The Complete Cookshop in Bakewell launched its ecommerce website some three years ago, but Lownsbrough is now expanding and upgrading it so that it can pick up the baton when the shop closes its doors for the last time at the end of July.
“We’ve been developing it over the past few months and there’s still a long way to go with it but it’s certainly starting to show signs of life,” the former chairman of the Cookshop & Housewares Association told HousewaresLive.net.
“We’re trying to load products up all the time and we’re having to look at it with a slightly different hat on. For instance, I think some of the products you put in the shop are things that are too small to go on the net because it’s uneconomical to send them out.”
As to closing the shop, he said: “I’m not unhappy about it – I think all retailers ought to have a web presence as part of what they do.”
But he nevertheless bemoans both the actions and lack of action that he sees as contributing to the deterioration of the country’s high streets.
“We’ve been watching the declining footfall over the last couple of years,” he said, “so with the lease drawing to a close as well it’s been uppermost that we wouldn’t be re-signing.
“The rates and the rents just seem to be going up, so although we’ve looked at smaller units you’re in a secondary position and the rents are still high for what’s on offer. It doesn’t stack up to being a worthwhile proposition so the net becomes the more attractive option.
“Increased fuel costs and parking charges are also making it difficult for people to shop in market towns, and there’s going to have to be a fundamental shift on the part of the authorities to keep shops alive.
“They seem to be hearing what’s prophesied but are happy to sit back and let it become a self-fulfilling prophesy. We were telling them this three years ago when I was chair of the Bakewell Chamber of Trade.”
Lownsbrough started trading in Sheffield before opening the Bakewell shop 13 years ago. He added a smaller shop in Matlock which closed a while back.