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Words: Melanie Burton
Photography: Mick Fox
Featured in the December 2018 issue

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Despite all the uncertainty being created by Brexit, the towns that form the gateway to the Lincolnshire Wolds and the East Coast are adopting a “business as usual” ethos, which seems to be paying off, writes Melanie Burton.

With the tourism season in the county appearing to be extending, with increased numbers of people now visiting the area out of season, the impact on local trade, industry and business in traditional market towns like Louth is a welcome boost.

The economic impact of tourism to the Wolds increased by £10m between 2016 and 2017 and the number of people visiting the East Lindsey district has increased by 140,000 from 4.45m in 2016 to 4.59m in 2017. Full-time equivalent jobs have risen to 8,534, an increase of more than 300 compared to 2016.

Louth is known as the capital of the Lincolnshire Wolds, and with its rich heritage and wealth of visitor attractions, it is well and truly on the tourism map.

But it is its range of independent shops and family-run businesses that set it aside from other rural towns in the county and help bring in footfall to the town centre.

Protecting that niche retail and long-established business sector is the Louth Independent Traders group which is a non-profit and non-political organisation formed in early 2015 by local businesses with the desired aim of generating a more buoyant town centre.

“Our aim is to be the driving force promoting the town through special events and advertising, thus encouraging further investment by both business owners and councils,” explained chairman Gary Denniss who is also the proprietor of M&G Designs Needlecraft in Eastgate. It is a family run business established in 1999 so he is well aware of the challenges and pitfalls that small businesses face in this day and age.

“As with everywhere in the country, retail can be challenging at times but in Louth we try and work to our strengths i.e. a town full of independent shops where we can change and adapt to changing circumstances,” he said. “Louth is a great town to live and work in, people are friendly and customer service is second to none. If you can’t get what you are looking for in Louth you probably don’t need it.

“We are constantly working on improving the town for the benefit of our customers and residents.”

The group organises special events throughout the year to help increase trade and town centre footfall including the Christmas Market on 2nd December and late-night shopping on 14th December.

“As for next year we hope to do more of the same and we have more plans for special events. We are trying to build on Louth’s strengths with the town being known as the capital of the Wolds by promoting and assisting in its future economic prosperity and well-being, ensuring a sound and enjoyable future for all,” said Gary.

Louth has a number of independent businesses that have been part of the fabric of the town for generations and offer a diverse range of products from clothes and food to jewellery and antiques.

One of the region’s longest established and most popular department stores is located in Louth and is a fine example of a thriving long-established family run business.

Eve and Ranshaw was opened in October 1781 during the reign of King George III by farmer’s son Adam Eve at 1 Market Place Louth, which is where you will still find the shop today.

The small lattice-windowed shop began as a drapers and grocers and although the original shop was small, Adam saw a bright future and as he prospered, it became a rendezvous for the gentlemen of Louth and the district.

It continues to be a draw for not only local residents but visitors from far and wide, due to the fact it has everything to offer from toys and novelties for the child in all of us to family fun games, delectable delights for food-lovers and practical gifts for those who love to entertain.

There is a newly-refurbished lingerie department where they have created an elegant, relaxing boutique interior and the fashion department has all the latest trends.

Another well-known name synonymous with the town is butcher, baker and delicatessen, Lakings of Louth which has stood the test of time for 110 years, having been founded in 1908.

It sources all its butchery goods from local farms and local markets and a full range of cooked meats are prepared on the premises for its Deli counter while the bakery bakes bread, pies, pastries and cakes throughout the day.

Lucks of Louth is another name that has been synonymous with the town since its first shop opened in 1985.

The men’s and ladies’ wear shop based in the heart of the market town specialises in country clothing but also has a good collection of other items to suit most people.

Then there is Striacroft Jewellers which started in May 1978 and is now Louth’s longest established family jewellers, recently starting in its second generation.

As an independent jewellers Striacroft in Butcher Lane stocks not only a wide choice of gift ideas but also exclusive collections of award-winning brands.

Serving Louth, Market Rasen, Horncastle, Alford, Woodhall Spa, Grimsby, Cleethorpes, Skegness, Mablethorpe, Brigg and Lincoln it has a wide range of high-quality diamond, gold and silver jewellery, watches, clocks and giftware.

It also offers in-house jewellery and watch repairs, engraving, valuations and insurance and ensures the highest quality of products and services.

The business belongs to The National Association of Goldsmiths & The Guild of Master Craftsmen and is a founder member of Jewellers Ark, which is a co-operative of independent jewellers from across the UK who are members of one the largest independent buying groups and the National Association of Goldsmiths.

Another successful family run business in the town is Keith’s Kitchens in Aswell Street which has been established for more than forty years, offering a full design and installation service for kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms or supply only for self-installation. All work is installed by time served craftsmen.

MANUFACTURING INITIATIVE
Manufacturing is also a key sector in the district and East Lindsey District Council has launched a new initiative, Manufacturing Growth Incentive.

It is aimed at existing manufacturing companies as well as those looking to invest in the area, looking to bring forward new investment through the provision of new premises or additional commercial floor space.

East Lindsey District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Market Towns and the Rural Economy, Councillor Adam Grist, said: “Manufacturing is one of the district’s most significant sectors and we’re committed to helping the sector grow.

“Following feedback from some of our manufacturing businesses, we decided that the Manufacturing Growth Incentive would be the best way to support those companies who are looking to expand.”

Portfolio Holder for Coastal Economy, Councillor Steve Kirk, said: “We have some excellent manufacturing businesses in East Lindsey and we’ll hopefully see some ambitious applications come forward.

“The Manufacturing Growth Incentive will be hugely beneficial to companies who are looking to grow, providing a boost to employment and delivering much-needed full-time jobs.”

Work has been going on in the East Lindsey district for a number of years to promote the area as an excellent place to establish or grow a business and to showcase what makes it such a compelling investment proposition.

Its focus is on achieving a healthy economy across the district with a skilled workforce that has access to a range of sustainable job opportunities which in turn will help ensure communities thrive and are attractive places to live, work, and visit.

THE FINEST WINTER FASHION
Louth is renowned for its independent shops and what better than to have a boutique and shoe shop right next door to each other. Orchid Boutique and Daniella’s want to provide you with an easy, comfortable shopping experience where you can find your full outfit all in one place!

“What makes us different is we demonstrate individuality, with our combination we try to bring you unique and different collections from other high street retailers. We endeavour to enhance your shopping experience. It doesn’t have to be difficult, choosing the right look or outfit to suit you, whether you’re looking for a quick fashion-fix or looking for something in particular, we are on hand to help and make it more enjoyable for you.

“Combining classicism with colourful expression, the richness of colour for this Fall/Winter is powerful, from winter blues to rich autumnal shades, and futuristic metallics. Our favourite season really does have it all!”

Orchid Boutique provides collections from Monari, Bianca, Frank Lyman, Just White, Le Comte, Frank Walder, Passioni, Kirsten Coats and Geox Outerwear.

Daniella’s provides collections from Geox, Hogl, The Flexx, Peter Kaiser, Gerry Weber Shoes, Unisa, and Capollini. Also stocking Italian leather belts and handbags by Amilu.

“With Christmas just around the corner what better time to visit us, whether it be to find yourself the perfect outfit and matching shoes, a nice cosy jumper ready for those cold winter nights, those boots that your feet can’t do without or that all important gift voucher to treat someone special. What are you waiting for? Visit us today, you won’t be disappointed!

“We would like to wish all our customers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!”

FAIRFIELD INDUSTRIAL CENTRE
Though the town centre has a huge range of businesses, it is not the only hub for commercial enterprise. The Fairfield Industrial Estate consists of industrial/warehouse units with ancillary office accommodation and self-contained office buildings.

The industrial units benefit from ample yard space and all units have dedicated parking. The aim is to provide modern, affordable office accommodation and support for start-up and established businesses in Louth and the surrounding areas.

Located on Lincoln Way on the estate is the Fairfield Industrial Centre, which is aimed at smaller businesses that recognise the attraction and convenience of modern premises, combined with all the essential support services they may need available under one roof with clear, simple billing.

The centre offers fibre broadband connectivity, a dedicated reception service, call handling facility, meeting rooms, client waiting area, air conditioning, controlled door access, intruder alarm, secure mail handling service, ample on-site parking, networking links, access to free business advice, no legal setup fees and easy in/easy out terms.

Business Centre supervisor Jade Furness said: “We are currently supporting 19 businesses within the centre which include accountants, architects, wealth management, counselling services, publishers and many more.

“We are also supporting 13 businesses through the provision of a Virtual Office Service available for businesses who aren’t quite ready for an office just yet, but who want a professional look. Prices start from £30 a month (ex VAT).

“Offices start from £65 (ex VAT) per week and there are three different sized meeting rooms available to hire with 20 per cent off the first meeting room booking.”

Plans for extending the industrial estate are on the cards too after East Lindsey District Council commissioned a feasibility study to consider the viability of an extension to the site.

The project was previously identified in the council’s Economic Action Plan, which identifies projects that will contribute to increased economic growth and prosperity throughout the district.

The study into the extension is considering the viability of extending the site from Nottingham Road, to accommodate the development of a ten-acre site for commercial/industrial use.

The Industrial Estate is currently close to capacity and an extension would offer businesses further space to invest in, whether they’re new to the area or already based on the estate. The study will provide an initial idea on design and costing for the project, and any constraints that may be on the horizon.

Portfolio Holder for Market Towns and the Rural Economy, Councillor Adam Grist, said: “The industrial estate extension has the potential to significantly grow the economy of the district and is the latest move we have taken toward achieving the projects identified in our Economic Action Plan.”

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