Scope to revamp existing shops in bid to wipe out £500k deficit

Indira Das-Gupta

Scope's remaining 250 shops will undergo a three-year refurbishment programme in order to reverse a £500,000 deficit.

The proposal was made in a report by Gordon Bullock, former chief operating officer at high-street chain TK Maxx, who was hired last year to look at ways of improving the shops' output.

Scope's trustees last week agreed to implement the recommendations in Bullock's report, which calls for the closure of 50 "serial loss-making" shops (Third Sector, 11 January).

Other proposals include improving conditions for shop managers by ensuring they are paid the average wage for the sector within three years and that they receive better training.

A spokesman for the disability charity said: "Like many voluntary organisations, Scope has become dependent on the goodwill of staff prepared to accept poor wages and conditions because they are working for a good cause."

The report criticises shops for keeping the same stock on display for too long and argues that they need to end a reliance on donated second-hand clothes. They should start selling cards, jewellery and furniture, it advises.

Bullock claims the current trend in retailing is for goods produced locally, and he believes that by stocking such items, Scope can contribute to the economic regeneration of local areas. This in turn might provide jobs for disabled people living in those areas.

Scope's shop in Wakefield will become its flagship store and a model for its other shops.

Writing in Third Sector this week, Paul Palmer, professor of voluntary sector management at the Centre for Charity Effectiveness, suggests other charities should also review their shops.

He says: "Although charity shops were a success story from the mid-1980s, perhaps the concept now needs to be re-examined." He adds that while some charity shops will continue to make excellent profits, others should reappraise their returns and look at alternatives.

- See Finance, page 21

TIMELINE

1948: Oxfam opens the UK's first permanent charity shop in Broad Street, Oxford

1998: Oxfam opens the first Oxfam Original shop, which was aimed at the more fashion-conscious shopper

2002: Barnardo's pilots the first bridal service. Oxfam opens its first bridalwear section a year later

2004: Cancer Research UK launches a chain of card and gift shops called Wishes.

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