This just popped up in my Twitter timeline; a tweet from James Timpson, announcing that Timpson’s had just opened their 2000th store. Now I am pretty sure that Twitter timelines reflect personality traits (hello, Cambridge Analytica, I’ll save you the trouble, I’m a grumpy old man who loathes Donald Trump), and so this was a beacon of light in a morass of dead high streets, upcoming CVAs and closing down sales.
So it stood out….. for all the right reasons.
If you haven’t read John Timpson’s book on the business, you should. And you might also ponder on their remarkable work with, and track record of, employing ex-offenders. This is a business that is doing all the right things, for very good reasons (though the passport photo they took of me in their Stirling store the other week was such a travesty it will never see the light of day – though that’s probably my, not their, fault).
The tweet did make me reflect however that amongst all the retail doom and gloom there are businesses that are thriving and doing well, opening stores and meeting customer needs. It is just that there seem to be so few (or relatively few) of them.
I had intended to write about CVAs and the current wave of closures – Maplins, Toys R Us, Carpetright, Mothercare, New Look and all those fancy burger and other food and beverage outlets. That is all happening and is devastating for those employees involved.
There is a current vogue in this, to say that the high street is not dead. But the dualism that is presented – you’re wrong it’s not dead as there are shops on the high street – is far too simplistic an argument and does not reflect the reality. Places are suffering and are changing, and this is not a quick fix. We will not go back to the high streets (or retail parks for that matter) of the past but neither will they disappear. They will morph and alter and the good ones will – like Timpson’s – thrive by understanding the customer, the business and the opportunities.
But, for a change it might be nice simply to recognise that some retailers are doing fine. And Timpson getting to 2000 is quite a milestone. Long may it last.