Trio of New Independent Shops in Regent St

Trio of New Independent Shops in Regent St

An exciting trio of fabulous independent shops are among a number of colourful new small businesses which have opened in Leamington’s town centre in recent months.

The Stagey Fox, a theatrical gift and book shop, Grounded, a footwear store, and Claire Marie, which specialises in ladieswear, have all launched in Regent Street, boosting the street’s eclectic identity.

Each shop is independent and their owners based locally – including one who relocated both her business and home to the town and another who returned from London to set-up the business.

Leamington is well known for its unique retail and dining offering – with around 14 independent shops and restaurants having opened across the town centre in the past six months.

Stephanie Kerr, executive director of BID Leamington which works with businesses to promote the town, said: “Small businesses like these are the lifeblood of the town, as they attract visitors by having such a distinctive offer and a wonderful welcome.

“Leamington has established an enviable reputation for having a unique variety of shops and independent stores such as the three on Regent Street which are wonderful examples as they help make the town centre into a community centre.

“We are always excited to welcome new businesses and it is great to be able to support them and also see them collaborating and supporting each other as this is what makes the business community so positive and vibrant.”

Family-owned The Stagey Fox is the youngest business on Regent Street after opening six weeks ago. The store, co-owned by Amanda Walsh and daughter Amy Walsh, also hosts cultural events such as play readings and cabarets for anyone to attend including those in the local arts scene.

Amy, who has recently returned to her hometown from London, said: “Both my mother and I love the arts – she was a theatre manager and administrator and I’m an actor and trained at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama – so opening a theatrical gift shop was combining both our passions.

“Leamington offers a rich cultural experience and we hope The Stagey Fox will add to the arts scene – our events are also proving popular.”

Claire Davis first launched ladieswear store Claire Marie in Redditch two years ago, but relocated to the town after visiting with a friend.

“We wanted to find a nice high street to move to and Leamington Spa seemed the perfect fit – I love the town’s lively vibe,” she said.

“Moving here has allowed us to open a larger store which caters for a new clientele and stocks clothes for every occasion, from casual wear to red carpet dresses.

“We’ve had a really warm welcome – in fact I liked it so much I now live here as well as own a business.”

Grounded Contemporary Footwear is the second store but a different venture for Ian Chaundy, who also owns McIntosh & Paul, a homeware and giftware shop, located next door.

“Although the two offer completely different stock, Grounded upholds the same value of sourcing quality products that are unique to Leamington,” said store manager Hannah Richards.

“With the variety of unique independent shopping available, Leamington makes the ideal location for a store which specialises in handpicked, quirky and bespoke footwear for men and women, and we are excited to introduce the range to Leamington’s customers,” she said.

The Stagey Fox will be hosting a rehearsed reading of theatre play Eire brushed on Thursday, 28 April, at 6.30pm. For more information, visit

Pictured (left – right): Amy Walsh (The Stagey Fox), Hannah Richards (Grounded), Claire Davis (Claire Marie), and Stephanie Kerr (BID Leamington).

A Word from Mary!

A Word from Mary!

A Word from Mary!

Over the bank holiday I had the chance to hear from none other than Mary Portas – Britain’s very own ‘Shop Girl’.

I count myself among the many who have both enjoyed and appreciated the focus that Mary has brought back onto the high street. Hearing her in person, I was immediately struck by her warmth, honesty and genuine enthusiasm for helping Britain’s businesses thrive. She generously tackled some big questions about the fate of BHS, the EU election, the growth of charity shops (her own chain included) as well as the launch of her new book ‘Shop Girl’ (which is actually what she was there to talk about!).

Below are a few sound-bites that I took away and thought you might enjoy …

On decision making… “When you are in the moment you feel it – you have to be instinctive and you have to have vision. If it feels like the right thing to do then trust that it is – once you do something from an instinctual place, it builds”.

On your vision … “you need to be visionary from the beginning”.

On getting noticed … “make fashion fun” and think about “how do I get this business talked about?”.

On ethics… “have a moral compass – what’s good for me is good for the world” … “my advice is think ethical and experience together … and think about your values”.

On towns … “Clone towns will change because we don’t need to live like we have in the past. People will be spending more on experiences, social spaces, creativity, connection, niche, mixed with health and wellbeing”.

On consumerism … “Greed and gain is moving to a more ethical society. People want experiences to feed their soul. We are going into a much better era!”. “We want tactile, physical experience that we can’t get online …”

On connectivity … “People are craving connectivity – the ones that have this at the heart of their business are the ones we will see in the future”.

On change … “it is very hard to make change happen unless you have people who understand what the end goal is …people then make the choice”. “It is better to look out than in – the greater good is people coming together to make change happen”.

In her own words … “The more you do it (talk openly), the more free you are” … “stay ahead by not thinking you know it all” … “be inspired by the people you work with” … “I have ‘no hierarchy in my business” … “Let people be who they are and they give you so much” …

By Stephanie Kerr
02 May 2016

Marching On in The Face of Change

Marching On in The Face of Change

Marching On in The Face of Change

We have been doing lots of reflection and planning over the last few months, so we wanted to draw your attention to some of the things we have been thinking about.

The town centre has seen significant change as it has shifted to a retail and leisure destination. This is evident by the number of new restaurants and cafes that have opened and refurbished so we’re aware that there is now far more choice and competition. Among other things, this has resulted in a change in footfall patterns, both in terms of why people visit, where people go and the times of the day the town is most active.

In the wider landscape, shoppers in the UK are now leading the charge internationally with respect to the percentage (per head of population) who shop online. We know one of the towns USP’s is the ‘independent retail’ sector, so Love Leamington was launched largely to showcase our ‘indie businesses online’ but this is just the start. We have also seen a huge increase in the amount of engagement we have had with our digital marketing and over the Christmas period posted material for more than 400 businesses, products or events.

Supporting businesses at a time of change is very important to us. This is pushing us to consider how we can support and showcase our sectors further. Other changes have also prompted us to question things like trading hours; ‘click & collect’ parking bays; a ‘Taste Leamington’ web presence; town centre WIFI; supporting the ‘digital high street’ and collective costs saving initiatives. To help us gauge your interest we invite you to complete a short survey in the ‘toolbox’.

Looking to the local newspapers, changes at a local government level are creating both opportunities and challenges. While the localism agenda aims to bring decision making back into the hands of communities, this sits alongside funding cuts forcing local authorities to look at their priorities.

This has already resulted in changes to the way car parking is delivered and looking forward there are a number of development proposals being discussed for both the Pump Rooms & Spencer’s Yard and the Covent Garden Carpark. While there are no easy answers, we are certain the business community needs to be involved in decision making and shaping future changes.

These are among the many things that the BID team and partner organisations are working on so please get in touch if you would like to find out more…

By Stephanie Kerr
01 April 2016

The Tricky Question of Business Rates

The Tricky Question of Business Rates

The Tricky Question of Business Rates

The recent budget announcement (March 2016) on changes to business rates relief for small businesses was welcomed by many, but it has left many asking about ‘what this means for them?’

The first thing that you will need to know is the rateable value (RV) of your property. This can be found using your postcode, on the VOA website at the link here.

The changes are set out in the following table and will be applied automatically by the local authority on the 1 April 2017. In summary:

Small Business Rate Relief:

  • Small Business Rate Relief will be doubled (from 50% to 100%)
  • Businesses with a property with a rateable value of £11,999 and below will receive 100% relief
  • Businesses with a property with a rateable value between £12,000-£15,000 will receive tapered relief

Business Rates Multiplier
The threshold for the standard business rates multiplier will be increased to a rateable value of £51,000. Therefore, businesses with properties with a rateable value below £51,000 will pay lower rates.
* This table is provided courtesy of the FSB (Federation of Small Businesses).

For more information, please contact Warwick District Council Finance Team on:
Head of Service: Mike Snow: or 01926 456 056
Council tax –
Business rates –

By Stephanie Kerr
18 March 2016

Mind the Gap – Living Wage & Pensions

Mind the Gap – Living Wage & Pensions

Mind the Gap – Living Wage & Pensions

Overall, the changes to business rates are good news for many, but you need to mind the gap as there are other changes you need to factor. This includes the increase in the living wage from the 1st April 2016 and the introduction of compulsory pensions.

To find out more about the living wage please click here.To prepare for the changes to pensions, you firstly need to be aware of your ‘staging date’. Then we recommend you get advice from your accountant, financial advisor or attend a seminar to find out what’s next. The FSB has advice on this here.

Please get in touch if you need any additional help with these things.

For more information, please contact Warwick District Council Finance Team on:

Head of Service: Mike Snow – or 01926 456 056

  • Council tax –
  • Business rates –

By Stephanie Kerr
18 March 2016