March 9 2014 Latest news:
Ben Woods, Business writer
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
An entrepreneurial couple are to breathe fresh life into a city centre shop left vacant for more than three years by transforming it into an independent department store – creating 10 news jobs.
Thomas and Kindi Tembo are launching Boutique Fusions at 25/27 Bedford Street, formerly Just Add Water and known to many as the old Hovell’s shop.
Scheduled to open in March next year, the five-floor, 11,161 sq ft, store will comprise of 12 separate departments championing local and independent brands, including women’s clothing; men’s clothing; a therapy room; an events space; a florist; a skin care section; underwear; homeware and soft furnishings; fine foods and drink; arts and crafts; children’s clothing and toys. The couple said each trader would take home 100pc of their sales in return for paying a quarterly fee to cover business rates, rent, utilities and office space.
The news has been welcomed by some business leaders as a further sign that Norwich’s retail offering is strengthening after being hit with high vacancy rates since its last low period in July 2007.
Mr Tembo, who previously worked in wholesale with his wife, said the store’s concept had drawn significant interest and many businesses had already signed up.
However, they are still looking for another 10 traders to come on board.
Meanwhile, Mrs Tembo said the couple were taking a risk by opening the shop, but are confident it will pay off.
She said: “We have got a fantastic idea, and at the moment we don’t know if it will be successful until we try it.
But we have got the passion and drive to take that risk.
“We believe it will all come down to customer service.
“In this day and age, you often go into a store and feel like you are inconveniencing the staff by being there.
“We feel the customer’s needs are being lost in today’s department stores.”