Steve Cochrane is at his happiest on the shop floor of his designer empire, Psyche on Linthorpe Road, Middlesbrough.
Watching customers rave over new season stock, find the perfect outfit or be fitted for their made-to-measure suit for a special occasion. That’s what makes the man tick.
Steve’s enthusiasm for fashion has endured decades, trends and weathered a retail revolution – and has made the store as successful as ever as it celebrates its milestone 35-year anniversary.
The bold Middlesbrough store on Linthorpe Road has always been the flagship of the Psyche empire – and a design statement in itself over the years – though these days a huge proportion of sales are through its online business.
But the store remains the heartbeat of Psyche and has just had a £500,000 extension of its backroom facilities to match the business’s growth.
This is the new home to the e-commerce side of the business says Steve, but a bit more too.
“We had 35,000 square feet, but it was all retail space really; there was not enough storage space, the offices were tiny and cramped, and the staff room was quite often full and just not big enough.
“We have 89 members of staff now, about 50 of which are on the shop floors. We’ve now added an additional 5,000 square feet to the building. I wanted to invest in a nice staff room with a pool table to improve staff morale. We’ve also got great office space now and everything is brand new.”
Steve watches over his empire from a ‘huge office” – but he’s always swift to remember where it all started, from heartfelt origins.
Back in 1982 in Redcar, Steve opened a fashion store called Sliced Tomatoes which went on to become the Psyche we know now. Today he is still MD, along with his partner Alex who is a director of the company.
Laughingly, he recalls the idea of that first fashion store being ‘a vehicle to pull girls – it was more of a fun thing’.
That first store catered for men at first and then went into ladieswear. Brands on board in the beginning were Fiorucci, Virtavala shirts, Naff Naff and Classic Nouveau.
Times change, trends change – and Steve has lived them all – but the passion for fashion never wanes.
Many of those first Psyche customers are now buying with and for their own children – and the buyers find labels for all, which is exactly what Psyche is about says Steve:
“I’ve been doing this for 35 years now; it’s Psyche’s 35th anniversary this year, and I absolutely still love it. It isn’t work to me. I love buying, I love product and dealing with customers, and I love being on the shop floor, although I don’t get time to do it as much as I’d like.
“Although online buying is strong, I also think shops will come back stronger in a few years’ time, but in a slightly different format. Things will stabilise and settle down and, once they do, the novelty of going to shops will come back.
“Shops will have to improve and evolve, and they will need screens and to be interactive. Click and collect is growing at a massive rate, so you’ve got to come in to the shop to collect your purchase”, he says.
Psyche brands cover all bases in terms of menswear, womenswear, childrenswear, accessories and home furnishings.
Most coveted brands include Stone Island, Kenzo, Dries Van Noten, Polo Ralph Lauren, Barbour, Hugo Boss, Armani, YMC, Edwin, Paul&Shark, and Belstaff.
Favourite women’s brands include Ugg, Love Moschino, Coach, Paul Smith, Barbour and Ted Baker.
The store’s childrenswear department is enjoying soaring business too, thanks to its unrivalled designer collection. All of which gives great reason to celebrate, says Steve.
“We’re going to have a great big week-long party in October – there’ll be a lot of stuff going on.
“The brilliant Orange Pip Market is on board for October 7th, bringing its suppliers along to showcase great local food and drink – it’s all about celebrating with local businesses and making it a great party for customers.”
Join the celebration in-store during the first week of October – including a DJ, giveaways, gift-with-purchase offers, appearances from Middlesbrough FC players, discounts, and social competitions with brands.
For more details see: psyche.co.uk