Strand Street has a strong future as the Island’s premier shopping zone.
That’s the message from the family business behind three stores in the central Douglas retail centre.
The Charles Turner group of companies runs the Intersport store and earlier this year moved its successful clothes shop Garrey Corneil from its previous location in Victoria Street into Strand Street. In the summer it also opened Forty Five– a leisure clothing store, next door to Intersport.
The business is run by Charles Turner, one of the best known faces in the Isle of Man’s retail industry, and his son, Charlie, who is a director.
They both believe that local firms are keen to see Strand Street succeed – and that it is the Manx businesses who have the local expertise required.
Charlie pointed to other recent openings in Strand Street, including the new Jac Stores complex in the building that previously housed Internacionale, as evidence that Manx businesses who are not necessarily tied to a UK chain have greater ability to operate successfully.
‘I think that it is the local expertise that shows through,’ he explained. ‘Many businesses, not just in retail, can be successful here in the Isle of Man but, as part of a larger chain, find themselves struggling as a result of problems suffered by their parent company in the UK.
‘We are fortunate in that Intersport itself is not a chain store, it is a buying group. That means we are part of a network of independent businesses who join together for the purpose of getting good deals with suppliers.
‘It gives us the advantage of being part of an international buying network, without the pitfalls that can sometimes come along from being part of a wider chain.’
The Turners welcome the resurfacing of Strand Street and say they are able to look beyond the short term difficulties caused by that disruption, to see an improved shopping experience.
Future availability of free parking in reasonable proximity to the town centre would prove to be a huge boost.
Charles Snr said: ‘Retailers in the street are aware they have to offer something better than the experience of online shopping.
‘I’m sure most of the retailers you find in the Island would be confident that, in terms of customer service, they can give a better deal than shopping online. Dealing with your customer in person means you can listen to their precise needs, help them make an informed choice and also provide a much more convenient and practical after-sale service.
‘I think the availability of some free parking close to the shopping centre is something else that helps to encourage customers to shop in town centres and keeps the business in the Isle of Man.’
He added: ‘There’s an awful lot of experience and expertise within the Manx retail industry and we are sure the government and local authorities will continue to listen to what we have to say.
‘If everyone works together I see a stronger future for Strand Street – and other shopping areas in the Isle of Man. That’s good for everyone.’
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