The buzz around Birmingham is at the same heightened level as when the new-look Bullring opened, according to House of Fraser Store Manager Parminder Sahota, a born-and-bred Brummie who has experienced first-hand the Second City’s renaissance.
Parminder is currently overseeing exciting developments at his store on Corporation Street – featuring super-brands like Michael Kors and Armani – as one of Birmingham’s most iconic shopping venues readies itself for the festive season.
And as the city centre continues to evolve, he claims there’s rarely been a better time to be involved in Birmingham retail.
“The city is fantastic – these are exciting times,” said Parminder.
Brummies are down to earth, they make things happen, grow and adapt
“There’s a buzz about Birmingham now that is as strong as when the Bullring was opening. You can feel it.
“As frustrating as it can sometimes be when there’s lots of construction work happening, I see the long-term plan.
“Birmingham’s a great city anyway, but what’s going on now is going to make a great city even greater.
“I’m a Brummie through and through. I knew Birmingham before the recent investment and development began and it’s great to see what’s happening to the city.
“It’s inspiring and shows the character of we Brummies. We don’t sit still, do we? We’re down to earth, make things happen, grow and adapt.”
Birmingham has an amazing retail offering
Parminder says Retail BID Birmingham has a pivotal role to play during these changing times and is right behind its vision for a proposed third term, from 2017-2022.
The BID is developing a strategy to create a stronger visitor experience by connecting retail, dining and cultural attractions.
Parminder added: “The Retail BID’s work is important for both small and large businesses alike – I 100 per cent support its proposed third term.
“It’s key to supporting the delivery and success of the many developments in and around the city.
“Birmingham has an amazing retail offering which, coupled with the expanding food and leisure choices, can only be a good thing for attracting visitors.”
Parminder, currently putting the finishing touches to plans for this year’s Santa’s Grotto, says shoppers can look forward to new fashion ranges and improved services ahead of the festive period.
We’ve got a few exciting things happening which will be in operation by mid-October
“As I’m sure every retailer will say, our immediate focus is getting ready for an amazing Christmas,” added Parminder, who has managed House of Fraser’s stores in Oxford Street, Reading and Wolverhampton, among others, during eight years with the company.
“We’ve got a few exciting things happening which will be in operation by mid-October.
“We’re really proud to be introducing a new Michael Kors handbags department on the ground-floor, to complement our Michael Kors footwear range. We believe it will be a great success.
“We’re also introducing a new men’s Armani concept on the first floor. Currently, we stock Armani formalwear and jeans, but they’ll be creating one department which will combine formal and casual wear, giving customers a broader range to shop.
“We’re also launching one of a new womenswear brand on the third floor, called Maison De Nimes, which is another exciting development.”
The second floor’s buy-and-collect service – an area that has seen huge growth in recent months – is also being improved.
“There are always products and brands we don’t sell in this store but stock online,” added Parminder.
“A great service we offer customers is the chance to order online, or at one of our instore terminals, and collect the next day.
“We’re now implementing plans to further improve the overall customer experience. Customers want more choice, not just regarding products but the way they shop, and want to be rewarded for it which is why our loyalty scheme is proving so popular.”
The new Midland Metro Corporation Street stop, directly opposite House of Fraser, has been another plus for a store which offers a wide range of retail options and services.
“We have by far the biggest shoe department in the city and a world of bags and beauty on the ground-floor,” added Parminder.
“There’s also three floors of fashion, the broadest homeware range in the city, three restaurants, a hair salon, a men’s barber’s and a very successful dentist.
“It’s a one-stop shopping experience delivered by a team who always put the customer first – one of the company’s core values.
“The Midland Metro extension in itself is great in terms of better-connecting the city. We’re happy it’s up and running and are encouraged by the customer feedback.
“House of Fraser’s standing in the city is as great as it’s ever been.
“The city has evolved and we have a number of great department stores – but that’s a good thing. It means visitors to the city centre have a greater choice than ever before.”
Written by Edwin Ellis Creative Media for Retail BID Birmingham Edit magazine. Read the latest edition here.