Reliance Electrical Overturns Closure Plans
AN independent electrical retailer in the St Peter’s Quarter area of Derby has reversed its decision to close down and is now planning its future in the city.
Reliance Electrical in Babington Lane, which has been open in the city for more than 45 years, has decided to continue trading following the positive response from customers and the success of cut backs in the business.
Eight staff at the store are retiring or taking redundancy and the store is committed to continuing its 15% discounts on all its stock in the hope of continuing to attract price-conscious customers.
Reliance Electrical’s announcement that it would be closing due to the recession, out-of-town retail parks and increased competition from the internet, prompted an outcry from Derby Telegraph readers who voiced their disappointment online and through the letters pages.
Chairman John Webster (75) said that the store had since been inundated with local people showing their support and the high volume of sales since then had prompted the change of heart.
John explained: “The response from the public has been very heartening and made us sit down and re-think whether we could make changes in our business to keep it open.
“Although times will continue to be tough, we hope that the cost savings that we have made and the commitment to remain very competitive on our prices will have the desired effect and secure the future of the business.
“It has been extremely sad to say goodbye to some very loyal, knowledgeable and hard working staff but difficult times require tough decisions and our best wishes go to the seven staff who have decided to take redundancy.
“Next month will also see the retirement of current Managing Director Chris Walker after 40 years. The day to day running of the business will now be in the capable hands of manager Robert Corby.
“Under new management, we now look forward to the future. The next six months will be critical but if we can weather this storm, we will be able to re-build the business, upgrade and modernise our building here and hopefully secure the future of Reliance on the high street for many years to come.”
Mr Webster, a former washing machine service engineer founded the business in small premises in Babington Lane in 1966 and built up the business, which at its peak had a turnover of £3 million a year and 40 staff.
He continued: “We are in the fortunate position of owning this building but that also means that the price would have to be right for us to sell which is very unlikely to achieve in the foreseeable future.
“We also have a very strong rentals side to the business which is a particularly good asset for the business and, coupled with our strong reputation for customer service and after sales support – I think we can now make a go of things.
“Although competition is very fierce in the electrical retail market, we continue to benefit from being part of the Euronics group of nationwide independent retailers which gives us the buying power to match the larger chains and the flexibility to discount our goods to customers.”
The news that Reliance Electrical will remain open was today welcomed by Stephen Jeffery, Chair of the St Peter’s Quarter Board which drives forward activities under the area’s Business Improvement District status.
He said: “This is great news both for Babington Lane and for the St Peter’s Quarter which is the central retail core in the city centre.
“Activities under the BID which was launched last September are gathering momentum to achieve our priorities of raising the profile of established areas such as Babington Lane, improving the visitor experience and attracting new businesses into the area.
“Reliance Electrical has been a mainstay of this area for many years and we are determined to do all that we can to support this and indeed all of the businesses in this area.”
Mr Webster concluded: “We have seen tough times before but never a recession so long and prolonged as this. I hope that with the changes we have made and with the reputation that we have earned that we get back on an even keel. Our future is now effectively in the hands of our customers.”
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