RUMOURS that the town’s most iconic shop is to close have been firmly quashed.
Managing director Ali Tyrer confirms it’s very much business as usual at Tyrers’ Bridge Street department store, which last year notched up its 125th anniversary.
The statement comes as a welcome relief against the growing casualty list of stores which have ceased trading in St Helens town centre.
WH Smith is the latest business to shut amid hard times on the high street. Others to join the retail exodus in recent times have included HMV, Miss Selfridge, Currys, Kamera and a number of independent clothes stores.
Ali, a staunch champion of the independent sector in St Helens, told the Star: “We have heard there is widespread talk that we are about to cease trading. I can assure all our loyal customers we are still very much alive and kicking.
“It’s certainly true that Tyrers like many other similar businesses has been hit hard by the economic downturn.
“It’s never easy to come up with a long-term forecast, but we believe when the predicted upturn finally reaches St Helens and people start spending again, we should have weathered the worst of the stormy conditions which have been lashing the high street.”
Ali added the team at Tyrers will continue to develop fresh ideas to keep pace with modern retail demands.
“I accept we must innovate and make sure we are satisfying the demands of existing customers and the new shoppers we want to attract to the shop.
“But I promise all our customers, old and new, will get that same Tyrers personal service which has been at the core philosophy of our family business all these years.”
After taking over as MD after the death of her father John Tyrer almost 12 years ago, Ali transformed what had been a traditional store into a ‘boutique shopping experience’.
But the store, which employs 75 people, has had to face the challenges of out-of-town retail parks, chain store discounting and the migration by consumers to buy online.
As the recession hit home, the team at Tyrers came up with a package of measures to attract new shoppers, including the revamped restaurant on the top floor.
Ali added: “I am so very grateful for the continued support of all my super staff and customers who have all played their part in our battle to defy the economic odds.
“I am under no illusions that a tough road lies ahead of us.
“But I am determined that Tyrers will still be at the heart of St Helens town centre for many years to come.”