After a record-breaking year of online sales and new product launches, entrepreneur Sophie Scarrott is expanding the business founded by her father online, but it does mean the closure of the retailer’s store in Cheltenham, on July 3rd.
Keith Scarrott Shoes was established in 1975. Sophie took over the running of the business sixteen years ago and has faced the task of keeping it going through the pandemic.
Using digital platforms like Instagram and Facebook to increase their reach, Sophie and her team made the most of each lockdown. As a result the business say a phenomenal growth in sales, of more than 400 per cent.
Sophie said, “The pandemic has allowed us to push forward with our digital plans at a much faster pace than planned. This is enabling us to take this leap into a digitally led retail future. We have already started the recruitment process to enhance the Keith Scarrott team.”
“We have pivoted and adapted throughout, for example, increasing our product range last summer to include a hugely popular line of trainers and country boots as customers moved towards a more casual lockdown wardrobe. It was that flexibility which helped to accelerate our growth beyond all expectations.”
While the brand’s Cheltenham shop will close in July, it’s operational headquarters will remain in Cheltenham.
However, it’s not the end for physical retail, as far as Keith Scarrott Shoes is concerned.
She said: “Modern retail really excites me. For us, I believe that a flexible and fluid trading model is the future, partnering with exciting brands and retail spaces and being able to respond to targeted customer demand and partnership opportunities, utilising digital insight to drive our activity. We’re already getting started – you’ll find us at an independent boutique pop-up shop in Oxfordshire this month, and we have plans to take part in pop ups in Cheshire and London soon.”
She added: “We want to do things differently, taking an established independent business selling footwear, which has traditionally been difficult to sell online, and to shake things up. Buying behaviors have changed. Customers who were once reluctant have now made the switch from physical to virtual browsing and are comfortable shopping online. We have a fantastic customer base and it’s phenomenal how much that has grown over the past 36 months. From a largely regional customer five years ago, social media and the website has helped us to reach an international audience which is brilliant.”
Sophie’s focus on developing the online arm of the brand began more than three years ago when she partnered with Maybe, the online shopping platform.
Polly Barnfield OBE, CEO of Maybe, said, “Sophie’s story provides inspiration to independent retailers, she has put in the “digital sweat” and learned how to use digital to complement offline to such an extent that she now sees digital as the “road” that brings people to her store. Whether it’s online or offline. She knows how to sell and has translated that to all digital channels. As a customer, you are served by her no matter which channel you visit. I have no doubt that she will fly even higher with her new model that represents the future of the High Street. We look forward to working with her as she evolves. Go where the customers are, online and offline.”