Norwood hopes to become a bigger player on the high street through the makeover of its eight charity shops by a team of experts from Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group.
The first refit was at one of the two stores in Golders Green Road, effecting what Norwood chief executive Elaine Kerr described as “a remarkable transformation”.
It would be the template for the facelift the other north London and Redbridge stores would receive over the next three months and Ms Kerr believed the new look would also improve the appearance of the balance sheet.
With no special promotion, takings were up five-fold, from £400 to £2,000, on the first day of trading after the refit. The redesign was marked formally with a ribbon-cutting by Barnet Mayor Councillor Brian Schama.
“If you walk down Golders Green Road, there are half-a-dozen charity shops, so you need to stand out,” Ms Kerr said. “The Norwood store now doesn’t look like a charity shop in the display, signage and marketing. There are posters on the wall telling people what Norwood is about. Even the hangers say ‘Norwood’.”
The charity had approached the retail giant for assistance and Ms Kerr “could not have expected more” of Arcadia, which has taken on the project as part of a social responsibility programme. Next up for a refit will be the second Golders Green Road outlet.
Other than a store manager, the shops are staffed by volunteers, including Norwood clients with learning disabilities who are gaining invaluable experience of the retail world.
“The community is really good at supporting us,” Ms Kerr added. “And we get a real cross-section of people through the doors.”
Norwood’s stores have been bringing in £200,000 annually.
The target for the year ending in March is £250,000, but this is likely to be upwardly revised following the makeover programme.