School outfitter hopes to grow regional reputation after Norwich store renovation
PUBLISHED: 10:19 06 March 2018 | UPDATED: 10:19 06 March 2018
A school outfitter is hoping to increase its East Anglian footprint after a major refurbishment at its first premises in the region.
In February last year the Schoolwear Centre in Norwich, which went into liquidation after struggling for months with delayed orders, was taken over by Hertfordshire-based Stevensons.
The group, which has seven other uniform shops in the south of England, is finishing a five-week refit at the Ber Street shop – which it hopes will bolster its reputation with the county’s schools and parents.
Sarah Garrett, Stevensons’ Norwich branch manager, said the company had been working to “rebuild the trust” of parents.
The firm retained the majority of the former business’s customers, as well as its six employees, and now supplies uniforms and sportswear to 24 primary schools and 16 secondary schools in Norfolk.
“We have approached all the schools and are having a lot of conversations,” Mrs Garrett said.
“We inherited a reputation because we were in the same building [as the Schoolwear Centre], but particularly in the back-to-school period last year parents gave really positive feedback about their experiences compared with the previous year. Our goal now is to build on that.
“This refit is going to make such a difference because as soon as someone crosses the threshold they will know they are in a different store, dealing with a different company.”
Mrs Garrett hopes to bring the Norwich branch’s customer total up to and beyond the 65 that the Schoolwear Centre served at its peak. She is also keen to investigate opportunities with private schools.
“It is great to be able to serve Norwich and from there to spread out to East Anglia as well,” she said.
Stevensons has remodelled the interior of the store to more than double the floor space dedicated to retail, and purchased a neighbouring building to allow an extension to be built for more stock storage.
The Norwich branch has continued to take online orders – which make up 25-30% of its trade and are all processed in-store – during the closure.
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