From a merchandising unit on the malls of the Telford Shopping Centre to two thriving retails stores in six years.

Michael and Ann Haines established their business in 2011, not knowing anything about retailing, however they knew how customers should be welcomed and served in a retail environment, they also knew that their products had to be different. Michael’s background was advertising and Ann’s banking, two very important ingredients to run a successful business.

Victoria James provide a beautiful selection of gifts for all occasions and unusual high-quality home accessories. The key to their success was to find niche products and change their product lines frequently, they now have over 20 suppliers including top brands such as Gisela Graham, East of India, GPO, Jellycat, Stoneglow Candles and many other well-known brands. They also support and use local suppliers for personalised items.

Their larger store in Telford Shopping Centre continues to thrive, growing each year as their loyal customer base grows, in fact many of their customers visited from Shrewsbury which is why they decided to expand and open in Pride Hill Shopping Centre in the county town. “Opening a second store is quite a challenge, it’s a risk and can be quite daunting but very exciting,” said Ann. “We set ambitious targets and we are extremely pleased to be reaching them, we are overwhelmed with the support we have received from Shrewsbury”

The couple strongly believe customer service and niche products are the key to a successful retail business. Both are still very hands on and still responsible for presentation of both stores and serving customers, however they now have eight part-time employees to assist.

Will they open any more stores? “We are on the case,” said Michael. “We are constantly looking for opportunities to expand our business, however footfall is vital and finding key locations with high footfall is expensive so we will take our time to make sure it is right for us.”

Victoria James also support local craft businesses, they buy shopping centre space and create events to make it affordable for small independents to trade in the Telford Shopping Centre reaching high level footfall and they also organise the annual Telford Wedding Exhibition at Telford Shopping Centre and have done for a number of years, again supporting local businesses.

“Our customers are extremely important to us, we want them to have an enjoyable shopping experience when they visit our store, each price is taken off, each item wrapped carefully in tissue paper and then a plain gift bag is provided and scented ready to give to that special person,” added Michael.