THREE new stores in Morpeth’s shopping centre are confident of being a success in the town.
Mountain Warehouse, JoJo Maman Bébé and Monsoon were officially opened yesterday as part of Sanderson Arcade’s second phase.
JoJo was founded by Laura Tenison from an idea sparked when she was recovering from a car accident in a French hospital and was talking to another patient, a mother-of-two, who complained about the poor range of mail order children’s clothes.
She decided to move back to the UK and start work on the business at night, while holding down a day job, and borrowed £2,000 from her brother to start the ball rolling.
A key feature of its success is providing French-style nautical clothing, waterproofs and raincoats, to allow children to play in inclement weather.
Today JoJo is a multi-channel retail company with 36 stores and a website, although Mrs Tenison says its values are still those of a small business, with staff and environmental issues high on the agenda.
Of the move to Morpeth, she said: “Dransfield Properties met me when I was giving a speech to start-up business people in Newcastle and convinced me to have a look at Morpeth.
“When I came up I loved what I saw and felt the town fitted in well with our values as we are very much in favour of having stores in town centres and disapprove of out-of-town shopping centres.
“We hope customers will come here for the day so as well as visiting the store they can enjoy the other shopping facilities and tourist amenities it has to offer.”
Mrs Tenison, who received the prestigious Veuve Clicquot Business Woman of The Year award last year, believes entrepreneurs can be successful even in today’s difficult economic times.
“I launched my business in a recession and went through ups and downs so my advice to anyone wanting to start up is that economic conditions may hinder you to a certain degree, but if you have a good product at a reasonable price along with exemplary customer service, there will always be a market,” she said.
Monsoon provides a range of clothing and accessories for women.
Manager of the new Morpeth store Steph Wakefield said: “Things have gone better than expected so far and everyone who has come in is really excited about us opening up in Morpeth.
“It’s a friendly place and the people like shopping in the town so we are confident about doing well here.”
Outdoor clothing, camping equipment and ski wear are among the items available at Mountain Warehouse.
Its Morpeth Manager Craig Pallister said: “It’s gone tremendously well so far.
“The customer feedback has been very encouraging and we are getting people coming here from all over Northumberland.
“One of the big attractions for us to move into Sanderson Arcade was getting a big space so we can offer a large range of products.”