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06 Apr 2021

Back to the highstreet with Hirst

The date the retail industry has been clutching onto since the Prime Minister’s announcement back in February, is finally just around the corner. April 12th marks the day non essential retail returns to the highstreet, and after what has felt like a bleak start to the new year, retailers throughout the UK have been busy in the background ensuring their brick and mortar stores are set to welcome customers with open arms (at distance of course!).

Our client, Hirst, specialises in footwear for all the family, and offers well established brands that help to deliver on price, style, comfort and technology. The family run business has been going since the early 80’s, and is now selling both online at, and through their physical store, Step Outlet. As the business continues to grow, so does their product range and team experience, and with that in mind we decided to catch up with Vicky Dean, Business Development Manager at Hirst, to learn more about the reopening of the highstreet from a retailer’s perspective…

Are you all set to reopen Step Outlet from April 12th?

Our team are ready and raring to go, and from 12th April we will be reopening the doors to our Step Outlet store in Oldham. We’ve added lots of exciting new products in store and even refreshed our look to ensure we’re welcoming our customers back for an enjoyable shopping experience.

What preparations have you taken to ensure your shopping experience is ready for reopening?

We’ve made sure to follow all government guidelines in relation to safe in store shopping for our customers, and as a result we have installed sanitiser units throughout the store and will be limiting the number of customers as appropriate. Our team working the shop floor will also be fully equipped in appropriate PPE to minimise any risks.

In addition to this we’ve ensured we are fully stocked across all products but particularly our best sellers and customer favourites, to eliminate any disappointment when shopping in store. We’re excited for the new products we’ve added to our shelves too, including a huge range of Skechers sandals in anticipation of a lovely summer we have ahead of us. We’re hoping our customers love these as much as we do!

What elements of your business were able to continue during lockdown?

Our team continued to operate in store during lockdown taking telephone orders whilst the store itself was closed to the public, but our main source of revenue came via our two Aero Commerce websites and built and supported by the team at Techquity. We have also been selling through third party marketplaces including Amazon and Ebay which has proved successful, in addition to building on our B2B relationships and supplying local companies with workwear. 

What areas of the business have had to shift as a result of lockdown?

The main shift for us has been getting ahead of the game in terms of forecasting stock levels, and closely monitoring our suppliers to ensure we have continued to keep popular products stocked.  We have also been taking a much closer look at the product ranges we have to offer across our two online sites and physical store in Oldham, working hard to find opportunities with new and existing suppliers that enable us to keep our inventory fresh. Of course emphasis on our online presence has also been paramount during this time.

What’s next for Hirst?

The past twelve months have shown retailers more than ever before how important it is to have a strong online presence, and we’re no exception to this. We’ll be working hard with our technology partners to focus on growing our online presence and becoming a market leader in our own right, with less reliance on the key marketplace platforms.  We’re keen to diversify how we sell utilising our USP of fantastic stock levels, but also look at options including dropshipping to allow us to offer greater options to our customers.

Written by

Rebecca Lawson


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