EXCLUSIVE: high street retailer has no plan to move
By Simon Hacker | 16th August 2023
Speculation on the future of a "resilient" Stroud shop that has been trading since 1973 has been quelled by a reassurance that the business has no plans to move.
Antics Models' Stroud premises was the first retail step that would become part of an impressive modelmaking empire for founder Alan Tyndall, who lived in Woodchester and who died in November 2021.
After opening in Stroud, Antics went on to 'scale up' with new stores in Gloucester, Bristol, Plymouth and Cardiff and the business now also runs a click-and-collect warehouse with retail area at Stonehouse's Springfield Business Centre.
Trade is both over-the-counter and online and its top lines of sales are model aircraft, automobilia, railways and running stock, wooden puzzles and gadgets. The company's retail offer pivots on the serious modelmaking community but also includes the toy market and appeals all the way down to toddlers.
The company recently decided to sell 49 High Street in Stroud's busy pedestrian zone but has leased the premises back from the new owners, who are now asking Stroud planners for change of use and conversion of the address's additional office space into domestic accommodation.
But spokesman Ian Straddling told Punchline that the changes will make no difference to the business, which is currently planning a celebration of half a century of success.
Mr Straddling said: "We have 25 people working in the company all told and business-wise, though we are essentially a luxury goods company as no one buys models out of necessity, we have come out of the pandemic with quite a boost in sales."
A move to Stonehouse, a decade ago, where the business developed a paints area that customers find useful for hands-on choice of colours, has also helped to reinforce trade, he said.
"During the pandemic, the strategy was to retain staff to half who were working, the click and collect through Stonehouse being vital. And because half of the staff were protected from Covid, we then had the ability to bring those back, when and where needed."
A key challenge for business in the last decade, he added, has been the rise of online shopping. "But when buyers come to us and say they thought they could get a product direct from China more cheaply, and were then hit by import taxes, they come to appreciate the service a company like ours can offer. I think that's what has made Antics one of those businesses that can be resilient."
Retaining a high-street presence, Mr Straddling added, remains no easy choice for retailers in the current climate. Given the competition on space from charity shops and the rates advantages they enjoy, as well as the attraction they offer to landlords who can subsequently access tax write-off advantages, independent retailers can easily be priced off the high street.
However, he added, Stroud's outlet will remain as an important element of the company's trading strategy.
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