Retail Week’s Summer road trip is setting out to uncover retail’s hidden success stories around the UK

You may have read Charlotte’s visit to the south-west and Wales for the first of our series of seven features to the different regions of the UK, plus Ireland, which are running over the Summer. The idea of our On the Road series is to uncover some of the hidden success stories of retail, which might be based in out-of-the way locations but are holding their own on a national or regional basis.

I know some readers based in the regions consider us to be rather London-centric. We actually spend an awful lot of time travelling, whether it’s the news reporters visiting retailers based around the country, or John Ryan doing his store reviews from around the UK, but inevitably being London-based makes it hard to always gauge the temperature of retail in all parts of the country. That’s what we’re trying to do with On the Road.

I was in the north-west on Thursday and Friday last week preparing the feature on that region, and had a great few days meeting retailers as diverse as Lakeland, Booths and Shop Direct, and also surveying the property scene in the region at the Trafford Centre and Liverpool One, and also in the city centres of Manchester and Preston too.

What was striking about everywhere I went was how many of the businesses and locations I went to were doing a great job of riding out the downturn. Retailing is tough at the moment, and a homewares retailer, an independent supermarket chain and a home shopping retailer catering for less well-off shoppers might all be expected to be struggling. But by knowing their customer and focussing on having the right offer, all are doing well despite the tough consumer environment.

Next week it’s the south-east and East Anglia, followed by Yorkshire and the North-East, Ireland, and then I’ll be doing the final one in Scotland.