Clayton Road: Retail, Rates, and Reputation
“You change jobs; you don’t really have a master plan,” he says. Little did he know that a master plan is currently in the works, as a business forum has been launched by Ed Banks, Local Economic Development Officer for Newcastle City Council, with the aim of making South Jesmond, and Clayton Road in particular, an even more prosperous area. The first meeting was held a couple of weeks ago at No. 10 The Salon, and Banks has his mind set on creating a steering group that can facilitate interaction and promotion between local businesses.
JesmondLocal spoke to various retailers based on Clayton Road to find out who wins the battle between boutiques and online shopping, and the perks of running a business on this popular street.
Clayton Road has made a name for itself as being Jesmond’s own high end shopping street. Retailers agree that besides the good ambiance that it possesses, it is the clientele that sets it apart from other streets in the city. Clive Dawson, owner of Palmer Menswear, explains the difference a little better: “it makes a difference to set a store here, outside of Newcastle, where there’s a more discerning crowd.” Due to the expensive, yet high quality items, said discerning crowd does not usually include students, with shop owners aiming at a rather niche market.
Gillian Nicholson of Designer Boutique explains that the labels she sells retail at over £300, and they are targeted at upper-rangers or professionals. She reveals that her boutique sees “no students at all.” Edo Menswear owner Ian Berrington-Fairley chimes in with a similar remark, adding that “there is no point in selling the same things as John Lewis.” The overall strategy on Clayton Road is to steer clear of the mainstream, and become a trademark for fashion in Jesmond.
These extremely hip boutiques definitely rely on their high-spending clientele, just as the clientele rely on them to clothe, feed and keep them in toiletries. David Wallace of Abercrombies Interior Design shares his secret with JesmondLocal, telling us that his regular customers have, over the years, evolved from recent graduates to successful professionals and “the aim is that they carry you forward with them”. To retain custom, businesses like his put huge effort into customer interaction, condemning online shopping for its lack of sophistication and understanding of the product.
While most retailers on Clayton Road quietly agree that footfall has been a problem recently, suggesting that it might be the inevitable consequence of recession, Jesmond Beauty Clinique owner Sam Richardson lights up when the topic is mentioned.
“We get people coming from everywhere, [even] a few footballers’ wives, a few TV personalities,” she says. This comes in handy, as the premises of Richardson’s Clinique are the lead in highest rates on Clayton Road, reaching £32,750 per year, according to council figures. Nicholson, who pays a quarter of that amount for her boutique, explains that regardless of how the business is doing “you just pay for the bills, you don’t have a choice.”
Back in Clayton Road’s own corner shop, Londis, and seemingly away from global economic issues, Rehan sits back in his chair and smiles. “If I had a master plan, I wouldn’t be here now. I’d be on a beach somewhere, drinks in both hands.”
Additional reporting and Thinglink by David Naylor
For more information about rates on Clayton Road, have a look at the interactive map below: