Indie department store Psyche saw sales shoot up after taking part in a Middlesbrough Fashion Week initiative which was heavily funded by Middlesbrough council.
The event kicked off with a ticket-only catwalk and shopping evening at Psyche in Middlesbrough, which owner Steve Cochrane said prompted a 40% year-on-year sales hike for the week.
“It brought 1,500 people into the store - about 1,000 were new faces,” he said. “It costs 12 times as much to get a new customer as to retain an existing one and we were given 1,000 on a plate, which was priceless.”
Middlesbrough council channelled £30,000 of investment into the three-day event, which took place over May Day bank holiday weekend. Local businesses such as Lloyds Bank and recruitment firm Hays invited some of their wealthy VIP clients, which helped boost average spend during the event.
Psyche showed pieces from local designer Kate Fearnley, who has an eponymous boutique on nearby Linthorpe Road, which drove sales of the collection.
However, most of the other retailers involved in the week’s events were multiples such as Marks & Spencer and Bhs, both of which also hosted in-store catwalks.
Cochrane urged more indies to take part next year. “I want people to recognise Middlesbrough as a fashion destination and come here rather than driving past to Newcastle upon Tyne or Leeds,” he said. “So I would work with local indies and give them space on my catwalk or in-store pop-up shops.”
Karen Shields, marketing manager of Middlesbrough Town Centre Company and the driving force behind Middlesbrough Fashion Week, said: “The stores involved had to make an investment too and indies are nervous of that at the moment, but I think they will see it pays off and get involved next year.”