Northern Threads: Celebrating 10 years of the shop they said wouldn’t last

Northern Threads 10th anniversary.
From left Nigel Binnie and Phil Goodfellow
Northern Threads 10th anniversary. From left Nigel Binnie and Phil Goodfellow
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They said it would never last.

But the men who were responsible for bringing high end brands like Vivienne Westwood and Armani to South Shields, are toasting 10 years of success.

Northern Threads 10th anniversary.

Northern Threads 10th anniversary.

In September 2006 friends Phil Goodfellow and Nigel Binnie were mocked for opening designer menswear store Northern Threads in Ocean Road, South Shields.

The pair were told their business was likely to be unsuccessful because Shields folk wouldn’t want those kind of ‘expensive’ brands.

However, the duo proved all of their doubters wrong and, not only opened a second store, at the Denmark Centre four years later - but have amassed an email base of 40,000, have 35,5000 Facebook fans and 20,000 followers on Instagram - plus they have outlived all of their competition

Phil said: “Within the first week of opening we were told this wasn’t going to work, that people wouldn’t pay for designer brands.

We’ve proved the doubters wrong.

Phil Goodfellow

“But here we are. When we first started we were one of six designer stores, but now we’re the last remaining one.

“We are now a destination shop, people come to the town specifically to visit our store because we offer items that nobody else does. So yes, we’ve proved the doubters wrong.”

It hasn’t always been easy pickings for the men. They felt the bite of the credit crunch in 2010 - just months after opening their second store.

Plus when the oil prices went down, they noticed a knock-on effect with few men studying offshore training at South Tyneside College - who would normally be their customers,.

Northern Threads 10th anniversary.
Nigel Binnie

Northern Threads 10th anniversary. Nigel Binnie

Phil said: “It was hard, we’d just opened a new store and then it reality hit.

“The oil prices going down meant there wasn’t as many people working offshore, or coming to the area to study.

“The offshore workers especially love their designer brands. Most men do, they’re not like women who will mix Top Shop with a Prada bag, men like their the logos on their shirt.

“But we’re now finally seeing the upturn though.”

Northern Threads 10th anniversary.
Phil Goodfellow

Northern Threads 10th anniversary. Phil Goodfellow

Both Nigel and Phil have been left saddened and frustrated by the demise of the town centre in recent years.

They believe soaring business rates, lack of free parking and very little choice for customers are all part of the problem,

Nigel said: “We’re lucky we have customers who come to our store specifically. But even they say it’s depressing walking through the town to get here.

“But it does get frustrating, like the main Christmas market is help at Haven Point, so people are being taken away from the town centre, it doesn’t help matters.

“We’re really proud of South Tyneside and we’re always plugging it on our social media accounts, we regularly post pictures of the area and people, who live elsewhere are impressed and ask where these places are.”

Consolidation and expansion are on the cards for the Nigel and Phil over the course of the next decade.

Northern Threads 10th anniversary.
Nigel Binnie

Northern Threads 10th anniversary. Nigel Binnie

Phil added: “I think over the next 10 years we’d like to consolidate our business, expand this store and improve our websites.

“We have some fantastic customers who have supported us all the way”

A special birthday event will be taking place at the Ocean Road store on Wednesday. Customers will be able to enjoy a glass of bubbly and a range of discounts.

A decade of changes in South Shields town centre

There’s been plenty of changes to South Shields town centre during the last decade.

Many household names have bid farewell to area during Northern Threads’s history.

Last week’s announcement of clothing firm Peacocks has been welcomed by Nigel Binnie - but he’s not sure it’s going to be the answer to the town’s problems.

He said: “It’s brilliant that an empty unit will be occupied again - obviously I am pleased there’s a new business going in there.

“But I’m still not convinced the tide has turned or if this will be a solution to making the area thriving again. We’ve lost so many businesses from Shields in recent years.”

The closure of Woolworths in July 2008 appeared to mark the start of companies fleeing the town.

In 2009 kids clothes shop Adams pulled down the shutters, while in 2014 music store HMV closed it’s doors, along with Mothercare and Marks and Spencer later that year.

In July, BHS closed in nearby Waterloo Square and at the same time chocolate company Thorntons in King Street also shut up shop.

That’s Entertainment sold its last CD in April, after originally closing in February – but managing a short stay of execution.

And the Officers Club closed in January after owners A Levy & Son, which trades as Blue Inc and Officers Club, appointed administrators.

Northern Threads 10th anniversary.

Northern Threads 10th anniversary.