The independent scene in Middlesbrough has taken another hit as menswear independent Yakuza has decided to close one of its two stores and its website to focus on driving sales through social media.
Yakuza will close its store at 170-172 Linthorpe Road in Middlesbrough after 11 years at the end of January because rent and rates on the high street are too high. It is keeping its other shop in Sunderland.
Owner Maggie Majid told Drapers the cost of business rates was “crippling”.
“We are on the main high street so costs are extortionate and we don’t seem to get anything in return for them. When you add to that rent, increasing wages and licencing for music and everything else the shop was no longer viable.”
Majid added that the business was just the latest retail casualty in Middlesbrough following the closure of “several independents” in the town centre over the last couple of years.
The business has also shut down its website and plans to drive traffic to his remaining store through Facebook and Instagram.
“We have 30,000 followers on Facebook and Instagram and it is such an important tool, particularly for the younger generation. In order to get people through the door these days you have to post images of new stock on social media.”
He continued: “We are going back to basics in a way. For the last three or four years we have been telling our customers not to come into our shops because we had a website where they could get 10% off and free delivery and it had a detrimental effect on footfall.
”We jumped into it without realising the true costs so we are cutting our losses and going back to that one-to-one, face-to-face service.”