A MORAY business has used social media to put customers at the heart of its future growth plans.
Grampian Furnishers is an iconic store for Lossiemouth and has been in the town for over 30 years.
However, owner Royce Clark posed the question: “Should we stay or relocate to Elgin?” on the company’s Facebook page.
Mr Clark admitted he was stunned by the reaction, with over 300 customers posting comments on the site.
The result was a 60-40 split in favour of remaining in Lossiemouth.
As he ponders the future for the Queen Street store, which employs 11 people, Mr Clark said the response from customers had been overwhelming.
“It has definitely given me food for thought. I wasn’t expecting that amount of interest,” he said.
He is now even considering the possibility of opening a second store in Elgin, although that will depend on the costs involved.
Mr Clark has been looking at a number of potential sites in Elgin, including the former premises of ‘The Northern Scot’ which back on to Alexandra Road.
The business was founded by his dad Jim in Elgin in 1975 but relocated to Lossiemouth six years later.
A move to the former town cinema followed in 1986, where it has remained ever since. Seven years ago the premises underwent a £500,000 redevelopment.
During the refurbishment of the old cinema building, Mr Clark temporarily moved the business to Elgin’s High Street for six months, in the building now occupied by The Cooperage pub and that proved very successful.
Grampian Furnishers now does business all over the UK following expansion of the online side of the company.
He believes the lack of footfall in Lossiemouth, particularly on a Sunday when most of the shops and businesses are closed, is a barrier to future growth.
“We have looked at the former Comet store, General George and Elgin Retail Park. The main problem is the rates are horrendous in Elgin compared to Lossiemouth,” he said.
“We own our building and the rates are not that expensive. The rates and rent would be a big cost in Elgin but then we would have footfall and passing trade.
“It is a question of whether we stay in Lossie, move completely to Elgin or open a smaller second store there. It will come down to cost at the end of the day.
“On a Sunday, if it is a nice day, Lossie can be busy but otherwise it is dead.”
One thing’s for sure, whatever option Mr Clark goes for, customers can expect to be kept informed and involved through social media.
He rewarded one of the customers posting a comment with a £50 voucher to spend in store.
“It is great for market research and getting instant reaction,” ge added. “Imagine trying to get customers to fill in that many questionnaires; it wouldn’t happen. It is a good tool for us.”
Mr Clark, who lives in Lossiemouth and is chairman of the local Highland League club, admitted it would be wrench to leave the town in a business sense.