One of Lerwick’s best known shops changed hands this week, but it will continue trading and all jobs are safe.
DE Shoes had faced an uncertain future when in January the Dundee-based head office anounced it was facing severe financial difficulties.
But the Lerwick store has been sold as a going concern to Inverness-based Begg Shoes and Bags, a family run business established in 1866. The company has acquired DE Shoes’ five largest stores – the one in Lerwick as well as those in Kirkwall, Inverurie, Peterhead and Elgin.
Company director Garek Begg, the fifth generation of the family, said: “We are delighted to take on the Lerwick store. The acquisition safeguards nine jobs in the store as well as the provision of children’s footwear, and introduces a highly respected shoe and accessories retailer to Shetland.
“For the first few months we will be restricted in changing the product offering, but from the summer onwards an improved selection will hopefully meet the demands of customers in Shetland.”
He said the new regime would attempt to provide knowledgeable service and value for money.
“I can also confirm we will continue with the children’s shoe business which we have a great deal of expertise in.”
The acquisition comes in conjunction with the development of a new website.
But Mr Begg said that customers benefit from using the personal service offered within a shop: “We believe the future of retail requires both a bricks and mortar presence as well as an e-commerce service. Our new website is now fully operational and we are seeing the benefits from it already, however, we see the website as a support tool for our customers rather than ‘the future’.
“If a customer wants a unique shopping experience and a pair of shoes that are appealing, offer good value and fit their foot properly, they need specialist advice from niche retailers like Begg Shoes and Bags.
“An e-commerce/mail order business simply cannot offer that service, nor for that matter can many of the large diversified retailers.”
And he hopes the public will support the company’s move into Shetland: “The future for independent retailers is not entirely in our own hands; we need support from the government, local councils, planning departments and of course customers.”
Meanwhile the staff at the shop, which became DE Shoes around five years ago after many years of trading as T.C. Pottinger, are delighted their jobs are secure and pleased, too, that the shop has been taken over by a specialist shoe and bag retailer rather than a chain store.
Manager Pauline Arthur said: “It’s good we’re still here and the shop is going to continue. The day-to-day running of the shop will carry on as normal, but [eventually] deliveries will be different. We’re looking forward to new styles and brands, it’s quite exciting.”