A new 17,000 sq ft independent department store will open its doors next month as part of the second phase of the £50m Fox Valley development in north Sheffield.
Sandersons will be run by Deborah Holmes, a local businesswoman who co-owns Dransfield Properties – the property firm leading the Fox Valley development – with her husband, Mark Dransfield.
Talk us through the layout of the store
There will be a florist and a nail bar as you walk in. Cosmetics, skincare and fragrance will also be on the ground floor. There will be a Moda in Pelle footwear department, handbags and homewares plus a 1,000 sq ft menswear department stocking Joules, Barbour, Gant and Ted Baker. We’ll have Polo Ralph Lauren for spring 17, too.
Then on the first floor there is a beautiful tearoom called Blakes, where you can have afternoon tea, and a 5,000 sq ft womenswear department, which will offer all the brands in the menswear department, as well as labels including The Masai Clothing Company, Darling and Onjenu.
The team at Sandersons
Who is your target customer?
We’re looking to offer women over the age of 35 something a bit different. On a personal level, I have been getting bored with the typical high street offer, so it is important to offer a point of difference. I love the likes of Liberty in London and we’re trying to offer something you can’t get anywhere else nearby. We’ve got a focus on British products such as Toolally jewellery, which is made in Skipton, and homewares from Plum & Ashby, which is based in London.
It’s about offering different brands that are good quality at a mid price-point.
Why did you decide to open a department store now?
I have been a journalist all my life and our family business is in retail property, so I have lots of experience in that. I love fashion and retail, and my daughter is about to start university so I will have empty nest syndrome. We have worked on a few independent department stores on the retail side and I thought “I can do this”. In north Sheffield where we are, there is nothing like this. You either have to travel to Leeds or Manchester, or nearby [shopping centre] Meadowhall, but that is quite a different experience.
Are you ready for the launch?
We open on 1 September and we’ve had our team of 25 people in for the last two weeks to get fully trained up. Our youngest is a 17-year-old part-time sales assistant on the beauty counter and then the oldest is probably me, at 54.
There is about 40% of the stock in at the moment – so I am panicking that it won’t all arrive in time – but other than that, I think we should be OK.
How did you do your buying?
I started properly on this last September, but have been thinking about it for a long time. I made a list of all the brands we’d want and contacted them directly. Everyone bought into our concept, which was encouraging. I also went to the trade shows Pure London, Scoop, Moda and [homeware and craft show] Top Drawer.
What will you do online?
We plan to launch a transactional site on our first anniversary and there will be an information website going live at the end of this week. I think there will always be a place for bricks-and-mortar retail, but there needs to be a bit more theatre. That’s why we’ve got the brow bar, the nail bar, the tearoom and the florist. We will also have two big TV screens showing movies such as Breakfast at Tiffany’s and The Devil Wears Prada, as well as moving images of the brands we stock – we want to give an experience.