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Sales success for Norfolk and Waveney cancer charity shops

The Big C charity shop and bridal shop on Timberhill, Norwich. Photo: Big C

The Big C charity shop and bridal shop on Timberhill, Norwich. Photo: Big C

Big C

Norfolk and Waveney’s cancer charity, Big C, has announced growth for its retail division, which includes 13 charity shops in towns and communities across the region.

The Big C charity shop and bridal shop on Timberhill, Norwich. Photo: Big CThe Big C charity shop and bridal shop on Timberhill, Norwich. Photo: Big C

Income for the charity, generated by retail, has increased by more than 38pc since 2014, with year on year growth. Gift Aid contribution has also risen by 43pc over this period.

Big C has opened three new shops in the last 18 months, with more openings planned in the year ahead.

Several of the existing stores have also been refitted.

This bucks the trend nationally, with the 2017 Charity Shops Survey showing that UK numbers have flat-lined, with many charity shops closing as opening in the period.

The Big C charity shop and bridal shop on Timberhill, Norwich. Photo: Big CThe Big C charity shop and bridal shop on Timberhill, Norwich. Photo: Big C

Big C’s head of retail, Ashley Bunn, said: “These positive results are the outcome of a clear growth strategy and a huge amount of work and commitment from our team. I am very proud of this achievement by our staff and volunteers, especially in a challenging retail environment and against rising costs.

“I believe the fact that we design every one of our shops as a destination tailored to its location and give it an individual personality; a point of difference, is key to our success. We also want to become part of the community.

“For example, our new Diss store has several craft groups that meet upstairs in a community area. Our Cromer shop has its own unique style to appeal to both locals and tourists. The manager, Wendy, has dressed the store with home-made bunting and they take part in local events. We also have our furniture and craft Eemporium at Wymondham and bridal shop on the top floor of our Timberhill shop in Norwich.”

Big C’s retail team has also been working with John Lewis, which has seen groups from the Norwich branch of the national retailer volunteer at Big C’s distribution centre and some of Big C’s staff visit John Lewis for some coaching.

Students from City College Norwich have also worked on Big C projects taking briefs for projects including photography, upcycling and bridal. Both organisations also have donation stations at their sites.

Norwich based stylist, Kate Cooper, who has an interest in sustainable fashion, works with Big C to demonstrate how clothes from its stores can be customised for personal style. Many of Big C’s volunteers work in the network of charity shops.

Mr Bunn added: “We never take for granted how lucky we are to have our amazing army of volunteers, especially when many charitable organisations are reporting pressure on volunteer numbers and volunteering hours. We still need many more however and we’re very keen to hear from anyone who would like to join the team.”

Dr Chris Bushby, Big C chief executive, added: “Our shops provide an integral part of our charitable income. We rely on the generous time and energy our volunteers give to Big C. It’s a great way to meet new people and spend some free time and for some it’s also an excellent way to gain experience of the retail sector. On average 20 people are given a cancer diagnosis every day in Norfolk and Waveney and the need for our services are increasing daily. Your unwanted gifts, outgrown clothes and any other items go a long way to support people affected by cancer in our community.”

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