With the right offering customers will always want to use their high street, says Angela Spindler

So we all know Mary Portas has been tasked to find a way to reinvigorate today’s high streets. While I am sure we will all agree it is a large task, it is something that we at Original Factory Shop know a bit about - we’ve been doing it for years.

We typically open stores on the forgotten high streets of small towns up and down the UK. We are now up to 167 stores and, what’s more, there are many more opportunities out there.

Quite often when I am in London, I spend a lot of my time explaining what Original Factory Shop is and does. I don’t blame people for not knowing - our model would simply not work on Regent Street or in any city centre for that matter.

We have stores as far north as Wick in Scotland right down to Helston in Cornwall. No other retailer fits our model of being a national non-food convenience retailer, able to offer branded products at great value to our customers and located on their local high street.

We target catchments with a population of about 15,000 - a small catchment area by general retail standards, but just fine for us as our average customer visits us every week or so.

Our customers see us a ‘must pop-in’ store knowing they will always be able to pick up a bargain, and in return we seek to offer them something fresh and new every time they visit. Our offer varies from branded pet food toperfume, wellies to DVDs, steel toe-capped boots to must-have fashions - in fact they quite often don’t know what they want before coming into the store.

Our breadth rather than depth of offer has helped us to buck the overall retail trend experienced over the past few years.

For example, we were one of the few retailers to benefit from the snow in December as our customers were able to avoid treacherous journeys and walk to our stores to pick up their Christmas gifts. Not only did Christmas gifts sell well, but we sold large amounts of electric heaters, fleeces and jackets, boots and snow shovels.

We all know the issues UK consumers are facing. Less disposable income and rising costs, including petrol prices, means it is cheaper to shop locally.

In addition, customers are keener than ever to spend their money on products that clearly offer great valucome. Our policy of buying clearance product and selling known brands at big discounts plays to this.

We see potential for 600 stores across the UK - we are not even a third of the way there yet - and are clear about what we bring to our customers and the role we play in the communities we are in. It is not rocket science - we know our market and are offering our customers something relevant and unique.

There may be big question marks about how to boost trading in Britain’s ‘forgotten’ high streets, which we at Original Factory Ship will happily answer. Or you could go into one of our stores and have a look.

Angela Spindler