Being Ready… is your business retail ready?

 Being Ready! Is your business retail ready?

Being Ready for the business of Retail

Is your business ready? Is it ready and poised to accept all the opportunities which may come its way?

As Business Owners there are times of the year when you need to be ready, you know when you have to submit your accounts, pay your VAT, Corporation tax or PAYE and the list goes on. We ensure we don’t miss these deadlines as there are usually financial implications/ penalties.

But, have you ever considered  how much not being business ready for the impromptu PR or Sales opportunity may be doing just as much damage to your business by not being in a position to seize and capitalise upon them?

As a company I would like to think that we are generous with our knowledge and expertise, not always profiting from them, but understanding and working towards the bigger picture. The bigger picture in this case being able to work with the brands of today who will be the industry leaders of tomorrow.

So how does a business prepare themselves for these opportunities?  Well, below I have identified a few keys points on being Sales Ready and a link to how to be PR ready…





You and your business presence:

  • Do you have a profile story for you and your business?  (this may be two separate documents?)
  • Do you have quality and relevant  photos of both yourself and your products?
  • Does your company have a positive, up to date image online and offline?
  • Do you have a fully functioning website?
  • Is there consistent activity on your social media?

Knowing your business:

  • Your customer profile, how well do you know your customer?
  • Where have you previously traded?
  • How successful is your brands, quantify it?
  • How do you communicate with your customers, what channels do you use and frequency?
  • Have you received any press or media coverage about your brand? if so is it readily available?
  • Any celebrity endorsers, clients etc?
  • Have you advertised or promoted your products if so where / when?
  • Have you or your business won any awards if yes which ones and what for?

Knowing your Locations;

  • Have you done your research, both location and stores, where would you like your products sold?
  • What are the values of the stores you wish to approach is it a natural fit?
  • Do you have a track record of trading, if so where? Online / Offline, both?
  • What is your USP, why should a buyer take your product over the next business, what need in the market does your business satisfy?
  • Be realistic, what size orders is your business able to fulfill if it was to get a bigger order than usual, does your business have the capacity in place to deliver?
  • Know your numbers, how much are your products and what kinds of deals are you willing to enter into? In an ideal world a company would just put in an order for a shed load of your products, you deliver and they pay. However this is not always the case.
  • What kind of branding / POS material can you supply to the stockist.
  • Will you be contacting the retailers yourself or go via an agent?

The list above is not an exhaustive list and your experiences may vary depending on the type of stores you supply to.

However, you decide to approach it, the above bullet points are highlighted to give you food for thought and prepare you and your business.for sales success.

Be Ready, Be Bold and Be successful!



Ambitious businesses need join & New blog feature…








At RedBorder Ltd, we work with ambitious businesses. You know the ones that live breathe and sleep their businesses. The ones where you see they have a real passion for what they do and are generous enough to share their talent with the wider world. They also punch above their weight, which is a good thing!

There is a fine line between boasting and celebrating ones success and these businesses know how to walk that fine line with great poise and ease.

Often we admire people from afar for what they may accomplish. You may never meet them, which I think is good thing as it adds to the mystery of the person. For one split second they act as an inspiration or a motivator for the reader and very often than not they are unaware of the impact that they have made on an individual.

Ambitious small businesses have the same impact on me, i really admire artist of all genres, they are inhibited, fearless and always relevant.

To this day, So solid Crew Video of 21 seconds is one of my all time favourite video, it is just so damn clever for these ambitious and inspiring  group of young individuals as they were at the time to produce such a timeless video.

Now whilst So Solid crew achieved mass success, accolades and high praises, not everyone who acts as an inspiration in society gets recognised for it.

So Solid Crew 21 seconds

So Solid Crew 21 seconds







So every month as I go about my business, researching and networking, I intend to acknowledge anyone who has been a source of inspiration for that month, it is just my way of saying thank you.

Starting with this month June 2015

What I like about your business goes to:


Who: Sonia Meggie

What for: Inspirational U

Why: Just  follow her on twitter to admire her relentless work ethic, no surprise she has been awarded an MBE

 For more info visit:


Until next month

DM x


Sidcup on the Up!

So apparently Sidcup is on the up, this lesser known London Suburb has had a major injection of regeneration fund courtesy of the Mayor of London (OLF) and Bexley council matching their contribution.

£1.8m was awarded to Bexley council to help revive this once bustling high street.

A programme designed to help:

  • Existing businesses who were struggling to stay afloat
  • Expanding businesses: to increase the occupancy rate on the high street by helping small and established businesses who are ready to take that next step into occupying a shop of their own
  • New Businesses: who are just starting out, possibly selling online, but wished to test trade in a safe retail environment with very low risks or overheads or for a service style business like a graphic designer or animator who would benefit from working alongside like minded businesses to share skills,  knowledge and best practices.

The team, which was  pulled together by programme manager Rod Lean, were all committed to the vision of the project and understanding the lasting impact this would have for Sidcup worked tirelessly to ensure a positive delivery was achieved.

The BBC featured the project on the 5th September during both their 1pm and 6pm news, which highlighted exactly how far Sidcup has come and the impact the regeneration has had on the high street.







As with most regeneration projects, getting local  community buy in is always going to be your best ally however not always achievable.

It is to be expected that  even carefully planned regeneration projects of this scale will pose some disruption, however the business person in me believes that it is a small price to pay in order to achieve long term growth and restore vibrancy to a once bustling high street.  The customers are there they just need to be encouraged back to shop local.

Sidcup is one of the shortest high streets I have ever walked along, but the businesses are really friendly, from the likes  of Kaz, from Kaz”s restaurant who would always keep a little look out for you if he sees a traffic warden sniffing around your car, to Jan at finally framed who is more than happy to lend you an easel for a window display, Mizen’s shoe repairs and key cutting service who would add extra holes to a belt or shoe strap for a simple donation into the Jimmy Mizen foundation fund, to Sue Batmaz a business tour de force who owns several businesses on the high street. .These are just a few of the 30 + businesses which have benefited from the Instore for Sidcup project in one way or another.

Saturday September 6th marked the celebration of all the regeneration work in Sidcup and the opening of The Learning Centre (TLC) formerly Adult Education.

My colleague who is too shy to be named and who would probably kill me… did an amazing job in organising the Big Dance Bus coming to Sidcup. The Big Dance kept us entertained for 4 hrs and even did the Electric Slide, yep the Electric slide  came to Sidcup!

One of the many legacies of this project will be Sidcup & Co and one of the advantages of having a shop on the high street is being able to quantify the sales impact that  events like these brings to the area, if Sidcup & Co  sales were an indication of how much people and residents enjoyed themselves then the big dance bus coming to Sidcup was a resounding success.

If you would like to find out about the Instore or Sidcup programme please click here









Creating a sustainable pop up shop…

So I have been MIA (Missing in action) for a little while, and whilst it has pained me to not update this blog on a monthly basis it has all been for a good and positive cause.

I have had to put RedBorder on hold momentarily to manage this project, but I saw it as an opportunity to acquire additional knowledge and skills something which I would have had to pay handsomely and take time out for, so the pros massively outweighed the cons. I swiftly realised that working on this project is akin to a fast track masters in project management.

The project which is part of a wider scheme to regenerate Sidcup High street, focusing on helping small businesses to have an opportunity to test trade on the high street, something which currently comes at a premium.

Sidcup & Co is set up to be a  multi purpose space, incorporating the  provision for Retail, Business and Events




During the latter part of 2013 and following 3 test phases, we invited applicants to apply for funding to help their small businesses, in December 2013, 15 grants were awarded.

The successful  businesses ranged from Ladies wear retailers, Jewellery makers, cupcake maker to electricians and graphic designers.

Each business received up to £5000 worth of support this was provided in the form of

  • Business support and training
  • 6 months of retail space
  • Capital sum to invest in to their business
  • Match funding
With their capital investment each business was encouraged to purchase stock or something that is an asset to their business, invariably this will help them generate revenue in order to make a profit, which they would then reinvest in their business.
The aim of this was that after 6 months, if their business is truly a viable one for Sidcup they would have accumulated sufficient monies to pay for rental of their space.
As the initial 6 months support draws to a close we have several business in a position to still continue trading with us, but most importantly they are growing and expanding their business internally. They are creating a customer base, which bodes well if they wish to take up occupancy in a unit on the high street. This all contributes to positive outcomes for the project
Whilst the overall funding for Sidcup & Co is guaranteed until October 2015, the aim is to make this a sustainable venture allowing for more entrepreneurs to benefit from the programme. The project continues to prove a success with local buy in, current crop of traders wishing to expand, positive comments form customers, a waiting list to occupy, good sales figures and footall, retail space currently at capacity and expansion plans underway, it is a positive indication that this project has legs and with careful  and clever operational management could be a success.
As we enter the next phase of this project which is the governance, I momentarily reflect on when I started this project, initially I  would have appreciated some lessons learnt tips so for anyone who is currently setting up a similar venture and reading this blog I have listed a few  below for you.
Key lessons learnt from assessing applications:
  • Assess the person behind the business and not just the business: request CV’s
  • People will tell you anything to get what is essentially free money to them
  • Give yourself enough time to assess the applications
  • Have a strict and fair process for judging the applications
  • if you don’t have enough credible applications either open the applications process again or  invest more money into the other successful applicants.
Key lessons learnt from setting up the operational aspect of a pop up
  • Everything is not going to fall into place over night irrespective of how much planning you do
  • You will encounter a variety of personalities, with different needs. This will challenge you to assess how you do things and gain an understanding of human behaviour.
  • Ensure what is required of the businesses in order to trade in the environment is realistic
  • Concentrate on the businesses who truly have a desire to succeed the others will either raise their game or fall by the wayside. Do not see this as your failure!
  • Utilise and help develop the skills of the traders to support the operational aspect of the shop
  • Ensure you are able to set up credit card payment facility, #Izettle helped us with ours

Initial lessons learnt from setting up a pop up shop under the constraints of local authority

  • Ensure all due diligence is done with regards to lease and other legal matters
  • Ensure you understand how procurement works or at least work with someone who does
  • Understand how the tendering process works or work with with someone who does
  • Understand the approval channel you need to go through and plan for the various stages of sign offs.
  • Work with consultants who truly understand your vision (have a clearly defined vision)
  • Don’t be afraid to change or amend your strategy if it isn’t working, business is all about change in order to survive. The sooner the better in some instances
  • Work closely with communications to ensure the right message in the correct tone is being communicated
  • Be prepared to work outside of the core hours

As I continue of this journey, I shall keep you posted, but for now have a look at our brochure by clicking on the image below.









£190k and you didn’t enter the Revive & Thrive challenge… well fortune favours the brave and here are the Magnificent Seven!

Revive and Thrive for all people passionate about place.

The Revive and thrive Challenge the initiative designed to help  a winning town centre with £190k of business support, revved up a few gears when it was announced of the successful 7 town centres that have made it through to the final at Earls Court.

The finalists are: Blackburn BID, Broadstairs Town Team, Ipswich Town and Waterfront, Kidsgrove Town Team, Melton Mowbray Borough Council, Uppingham First and Wyre Borough Council. They will all be at Retail Business Technology Expo (RBTE) in Earls Court on 12 March 2014 to present their ideas to the judges.

The Challenge is supported by the Historic Towns Forum (HTF), Essential Retail and The British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA).

Colin Munro, CEO of miconex and one of the judges said: “We had almost 50 entries from towns and cities across the UK and getting down to the final seven was a tough exercise. We believe we have shortlisted the best examples of innovative approaches to reviving destinations and those who were able to demonstrate how much they wanted to improve their town and bring their ideas to life.”

The winner of the Challenge will receive tools and training from a team of experts who can really make a difference to the future of our towns.  Additionally, this will offer a new model and direction that can be delivered in communities around the UK.

As a member of R&T  RedBorder Ltd would like to congratulate you all on reaching the finals and I look forward to meeting you and hearing your presentations on the 12th March.

Best of luck!



It’s all in the presentation: Visual Merchandising for Fashion!

It’s finally here my copy of Visual Merchandising for Fashion the labour of love of Jonathan Baker and his co author Sarah Bailey. Knowing how hard he has worked on it and the multiple amendments that were necessary I wish to congratulate you both on bringing it to fruition.and getting it released.

Visual Merchandising for Fashion provides a 360 degrees view about visual merchandising with chapters about display design basics, space planning principles to the future of Visual Merchandising There is a chapter in there for every retailer and retail professional with beautiful sharp  images of retail environments to compliment the advice being given.

Many small businesses believe that they know all they need to know about visual merchandising and categorise it as simply about making something look pretty, this books challenges you to think again and educates you to a deeper understanding of this very creative yet highly competitive industry.

As if I wasn’t thrilled to receive my copy of the book, a few days later I received my Invitation to the book launch. Presented in a branded tin of M&M’s. Attention to detail was evident in the choice of coloured M&M’s. with such precision and consideration with the invitation you can begin to understand why this book needs to be part of the retail industry reading curriculum. Happy reading!











The right group: RedBorder joins Revive & Thrive

Revive and Thrive

Revive and Thrive for all people passionate about place.

When I started RedBorder Ltd in 2006, I always knew that it was going to be hard, business is never easy and retail never sleeps. Understanding if you wanted something in life, the effort needs to be put in, often for not a lot of initial success, but satisfaction that you are going in the right direction. Along the way, you learn new things and meet some very colourful and interesting people some of whom you take with a pinch of salt and the others you build long lasting relationships with.

You may join various fee paying networking organisations, some which will give you great connection and some don’t, initially you feel like you are simply hemorrhaging money, you wonder what’s it all for and then one day you stumble upon the network which is right for you and then everything starts to slot into place.

After years of being a subscriber to a good few of these organisation, I stumbled upon Revive and Thrive as I read through their website and what they aimed to achieve it soon became apparent that the basis of this organisation is a genuine passion for town and city centres. Members subscription fees (although it helps)  was not the driving force behind the momentum of this campaign there is a high level of integrity that is evident when you connect with Mark Barnes (Director Revive & Thrive).

RedBorder ltd joined the campaign in September 2013, pledging our Visual Merchandising expertise to the winning town or city who will receive up to £150k of bespoke business support. We have recently just agreed a corporate package for The Retail Calendar (identified by the Guardian  as Marketing and PR excellence) where the first 50 to subscribe and join the group will receive a hard copy of the calendar and the subsequent 50 will receive a downloadable version. To find out more click Revive & Thrive.


Small businesses need to think big and test the marketplace!

A few  months ago I blogged about the rise of the Pop up shops and its ability to provide small businesses with the opportunity to trade on the high street.

The next step for these small businesses is to learn from the big companies and test as many markets as possible. It can be so easy to secure your space in a pop up shop and think well I am here now, I don;t need to do anything else. You would be very wrong for thinking that. You will soon find that if you don’t start thinking big, customers will treat you accordingly and token gesture purchase your products.

No business should ever aspire for sympathy purchase, it is an insult to all your hard work!

I do believe that when Pop up shops are popping up that alongside providing small businesses with a physical presence on the high street that they also look to educate these businesses about transitioning from their bedroom to the shop floor.  It is a totally different environment even though the aims may be the same.

So if you are a small business either currently or considering trading from a pop up shop here are few words of wisdom:

  • Make sure your products are packaged and presented nicely.
  • Refresh your products regularly especially when a new season approaches.
  • Keep an eye out for what is selling, what isn’t selling remove and replace with your most popular items.
  • Try and get your products in the window display, if needs be, be proactive about it and speak to the store manager about which products lines you wish to promote. Correlate this with key calendar and seasonal events, it demonstrates that you are thinking ahead and most importantly commercially.
  • Analyse your customer profile and build a database. Understand your customer needs and supply it to them., attend different events, you just never know who is your next customer.
  • Build relationships and extend your network.
  • Do carry out comparative shop, compare yourself to other products on the market and differentiate yourself. What makes your products unique?
  • Test other markets/ locations! As a small business believe it or not, you have a unique opportunity, so make the most of it. The Pop up phenomenon will not last forever and rent will not always be this cheap.
  • Research where other pop up shops are opening, look into the demography of that area and see how you can supply to that target market. Remember if something isn’t selling in London doesn’t mean there isn’t a market for it in Birmingham. Expand your business,  If it’s good enough for Marks and Spencer’s, Next and all those other high street retailers then it’s good enough for you!
  • Only set up in a pop up shop if you are serious about your business and you want to grow / expand and ultimately succeed. Retail isn’t for the faint hearted.
  • Ask your store manager, where you can access training, it may be a case that they offer training in house or that you may need to register with business support agencies either way it is knowledge that will prove invaluable to your business.success.

If after reading this blog you are interested in testing your merchandise to new markets then click on the image below, which will direct you to a wonderful opportunity!



Think Global act Local!

Thinking Global, acting local!

TSB going solo with their Local marketing.

This phrase has been bandied about for decades, but now more than ever it is important for retailers who desire to have a global presence, need to understand and maintain a local relationship with their customers.

Businesses need to immerse themselves within the community of which they hope to gain and encourage patronage. The first move has to always come from the retailer, the locale does not owe you anything and are by no means privileged to have you set up shop in their area. Businesses, you are required to start the conversation.

My first foray into visual merchandising, I was alerted to the importance of understanding the cultures of the market of which you wish to enter and gain as much knowledge about that area. One of my first Visual Merchandising roles was working for Uniqlo, the obediently regimented Japanese retailer who sell few items in an array of colours at very affordable prices. When they launched in the UK in the mid 2000’s they had a massive expansion plan to open 50 stores around the UK. Their initial flagship store in Knightsbridge was a whopping success, frequently exceeding the daily and weekly sales target.

The momentum continued as staff bolstered around the UK opening new stores with corporate guidelines in tow. What was apparent was that in order to replicate the success of the flagship stores in London, other factors had to be taken into consideration when opening a store in Leicester or even Liverpool. Minute details like the preference to specific colours, inspirations and aspirations of the demographics, regional dialect and imagery used are just a few of the factors which are required to be taken into consideration.

As a Visual Merchandiser I believe some of the key components to a successful global expansion lie in building relationships within that locale. Utilising the knowledge and skills of the community in which you wish to enter, constant communication, become a servant to that community and get involved with as many relevant programmes and initiatives as possible. Celebrate the events which are indicative of the area that you are in, become a part of their conversation.

The TSB Hello Ilford image above reminded me even thought you put it in words your actions will speak louder. So hello back to you TSB however, how will you become a part of the Ilford community conversation, how will you serve your customers so that they know that you are taking the needs of the Ilford customer into consideration and not apply a generic corporate approach?



The power of the celebrity and retail.. going Gaga for the Sea Shells

Retail has always had a love, hate, love relationship with celebrities.

*** Celebrities have the power to multiply the sales of a retailer by a mere retweet. so no wonder retailers are clambering to associate themselves with the hottest celeb of the moment.

It is also no surprise that celebrities will do almost anything to keep themselves relevant, current and in the public eye. The pay package not to mention the freebies, perks (or to the inland revenue expenses) is too much or a golden nugget not to make their eyes twinkle and their palms itch.

As a small independent retailer unless you know someone, who knows someone or you have the financial credentials to employ a PR agency gaining access to a celebrity endorsement for your retail outfit or merchandise could be as tricky as getting Miley Cyrus to keep her clothes or keep her tongue in her mouth. (We’ve all seen the images from the 2013 VMA’s)! eek!!!

Sometimes retailers are gifted a great opportunity and if they are quick off the mark they can make a killing.

In steps Lady Gaga, currently in the UK in Camden playing a very intimate gig at the Camden Roundhouse. Her little monster are absolute devotees of their leader, they worship the ground she walks on and defend her like a parent defends their child. This type of loyalty you simply can’t buy once a Little monster always a little monster.

Retailers are aware of this and this is where as a retail business your retail savvyness can come into play and benefit your company.

Lady gaga is renowned for her fashion statement pieces none other than the Sea-shell bra as sported in the image below.






Knowing this a very cunning retailer in Camden, Escapade’s (fancy something different) fancy dress retailer have capitalised upon this and are promoting and selling out of their equivalent of the Sea-Shell bras. I have never heard of this brand owing to the fact that I don’t wear fancy dress however this has changed since I saw a report on this company on the ITV news a few moments ago. The store owner commented on the positive sales impact of the Gaga.

This is another great example of reacting to the current news, hottest topic and tailoring your services accordingly. Once retailers understand why and how to do this there will always be opportunities like this one which Escapade seized with both hands.

Well done guys, you have done retail proud!




Disclaimer: *** Celebrities endorsements can help or hinder your brands. The trick is to associate yourself with the right celebrity.