South Shields business bosses say don’t write off local shops

Phil Goodfellow, right, and Nigel Binnie.
Phil Goodfellow, right, and Nigel Binnie.

The bosses of a South Tyneside menswear fashion outlet have told of their ‘hopes for the high street’ amid major infrastructure improvements.

Northern Threads co-owners Phil Goodfellow and Nigel Binnie say they believe the local in-store retail experience can remain a good fit alongside internet buying - thanks in part to timely multi-million-pound transport upgrades.

These include the ongoing construction of a new Metro and bus interchange at Keppel Street, South Shields, and recently completed major road improvements at Tyne Dock and at the A19 and Lindisfarne roundabouts.

They expect their outlet in Ocean Road, South Shields, to benefit from improvements designed to help South Tyneside better rival its North East neighbours economically by attracting more shoppers and businesses.

The pair spoke out amid a succession of shop closures in the town, including Burton menswear, which shut in January after around 35 years of operations.

Phil, 44, said: “The high street has gone through mayor changes in customer shopping habits in the past decade, but there are grounds for optimism in South Shields.

“People still like to go out and browse and then buy, it’s a shopping experience that you still can’t beat, even though the internet clearly has a big part to play in our business and many others.”

He added: “Northern Threads has been in South Shields since 2006, and in that time the world has seen a major economic downturn and the rise of internet shopping.

“We have thrived and survived by maintaining a strong in-store presence and by adapting our business to the age of the internet.

“I’m very optimistic that the major infrastructure improvements that have recently been completed or are ongoing, will help support the borough’s businesses in the years ahead.”

The transport interchange is part of South Tyneside Council’s £100m 365 masterplan, an economic vision for the centre of South Shields.

Starting in spring 2013, it has seen the construction and opening of The Word library in the market place and the demolition of some aged, eyesore buildings.

Planning permission has also been granted for a new retail and leisure offer, and the central Post Office has been relocated.

In March, the council also announced £200m plans to rejuvenate a prime stretch of riverside just a stone’s throw from the town centre.