Newtownards department store to move into nursery goods in bid to boost sales
Co Down retailer Wardens plans to move into nursery goods in a bid to increase sales.
The stalwart of the Newtownards High Street, and one of the few remaining family-run department stores in Northern Ireland, began as a hardware shop for farmers in 1877.
Today, the shop is well known throughout the region for its wedding list service and high-end goods, a product list which continues to expand to include new consumer trends.
Over its four floors, it also sells electrical goods, furniture and hardware and garden goods.
Director Helen Campbell said the shop had humble beginnings, but her father, James Warden, realised there was ample opportunity for more business to be done.
She said: "When the farmers came into town on market day, they brought their wives who wanted to shop, so it was my father who started keeping furniture and furnishings, and the business has been expanding ever since."
The latest expansion to the shop will see the product list include baby gifts as part of a natural progression of their current services.
General manager and director, Keith Irvine, has been one of the driving forces behind recent changes at the store.
He said: "We're introducing a new nursery department because our wedding lists are so strong and to move into nursery goods is the next natural progression of that.
"Also, if we look at our footfall, a lot of our customers would be 50 plus, so we've obviously lots of grandparents coming through our place and they're very often the people who are buying the first pram or cot.
"We're trying to move with the times every month. The challenges are making sure your staff level is right and that you've the right staff in the right place."
The new section of the shop will occupy previously wasted space next to the wedding department, but it is hoped that with the introduction of the new range, it could bring in between £60,000 and £100,000 in sales each year.
"It was an area of our shop which was like a glorified office near the wedding department," Mr Irvine said. "We didn't produce figures for that area. So when one of our staff in weddings, who has two children of her own, came up with the idea and was very insistent that we should try this, we had to give it a go."
The new nursery department will open later this month.