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Store profile: Psyche

Middlesbrough’s indie icon Psyche is seeing the results of its upmarket refurbishment.

Since opening in 2002, 35,000 sq ft independent department store Psyche has established itself as a destination in the heart of Middlesbrough. Owner Steve Cochrane is a firm believer in retail theatre, continuously developing the store’s interior to maintain customer interest.

In the past 12 months, Cochrane has invested almost £400,000 to kick-start a major overhaul of Psyche’s interior. It’s a high-risk strategy after the economic downturn, but one that is paying off; thus far 2013 has been the store’s most successful year to date, leading to a projected turnover of £5.5m, with a 16% increase in sales on 2012.

The two menswear floors have seen the most dramatic transformations. In-house designed shop-in-shops have become focal points, with Barbour, Fred Perry, EA7 and others all housed in their own themed areas, including a New England-style boutique for Polo Ralph Lauren, complete with canopy and whitewashed window boxes. More work is still to come in the women’s department, including a dedicated footwear and accessories area.

Changes can also be seen in terms of the brand mix - about seven young fashion brands have been dropped as the store moves towards a more upmarket feel. New brands this year include Circle of Gentlemen, Oliver Spencer and Universal Works, while Psyche has also invested in breadth with core brands such as Barbour and Fred Perry.

The installation of a beauty salon this year is another draw for customers, with free blow-dries for women or wet shaves for men offered with every purchase. The tailoring area has also seen a revamp based on an old-fashioned gentlemen’s club theme, complete with pool table and an alterations service. Overall, the wider store floors look impressive, with new light fixtures and flooring giving a fresher, modern vibe.

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