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Retail is in my DNA – says Barbara King


By Anna Ruggiero Advice from ‘retail royalty’


With a top career in stores around the world, expert retailer, Barbara King is an inspiration to entrepreneurs and has some invaluable advice for independent shopkeepers. Often known as ‘retail royalty’,


Barbara is clear that customers want unusual goods that are well made and fairly priced as well as excellent customer service and they will actively seek out local or UK-made products. Barbara relishes the challenge and


said: “Retail is in my DNA, every trip to somewhere new inspires me to look at lifestyle trends and observe what is different or emerging. It could be an image, sitting in a restaurant observing people, viewing an exhibition – I will find something to spark an idea.” Barbara is is in charge of The


Shops at Dartington – a group of 14 shops and cafes in the heart of Devon which support independent retailers and local producers. She said: “The


purchasing power to be competitive price wise.” At Dartington, Barbara buys well-made quality merchandise with a focus on Devon and helps small companies get a foot in the door. The centre not only attracts locals but also visitors outside the county which was always her ambition. A new website


Barbara King


was launched last September offering customers the opportunity to buy a carefully chosen ‘edited selection’ of ‘best picks’ from the 14 onsite shops. Go to www.shopsatdartington.co.uk to discover the luxurious range on offer – everything from fashion to food. Starting at John Lewis, Barbara worked


abroad in senior retail posts before becoming buying and merchandise director for Liberty and other high street names including the General Trading Company, Jenners of Edinburgh and the Beales group. She became managing director at


8 Giftware Review & Home Interiors March / April 2015


Leather workshop or outdoor fun at Dynamic Adventures. Two cafes include The Venus Café and Takeaway for organic food and drink and Cranks Café for vegetarian food.


‘I will find something to spark an idea!’


independent retail sector has suffered in recent years with retail habits polarising and the rise of volume, value led goods making it harder for independent retailers that do not have the


Dartington in 2010 where the shops are located in a beautiful rural setting in former farm buildings. Locally sourced food is becoming more popular with shoppers who are applying more thought to their purchases and a real triumph has been the expansion of The Food Shop and Craft Centre where there is a focus on Devon and UK made items. There are also activities laid on for customers


including the opportunity to throw a pot at Crazy about Clay, make a leather purse at the Tanner Bates


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