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Palmers gets set for revamp

PUBLISHED: 19:10 24 January 2008 | UPDATED: 10:20 03 July 2010

Anthony Carroll

GREAT Yarmouth's oldest independent department store is facing attack from a national company on two fronts where it has businesses.

The 170-year-old Palmers department store is gearing up to face the challenge of having a Debenhams store open in both Yarmouth and in Bury St Edmunds.

GREAT Yarmouth's oldest independent department store is facing attack from a national company on two fronts where it has businesses.

The 170-year-old Palmers department store is gearing up to face the challenge of having a Debenhams store open in both Yarmouth and in Bury St Edmunds.

Debenhams is returning to Yarmouth in the multi-million-pound extension and revamp of Market Gates shopping centre.

Now Palmers is to spend more than £500,000 on revamping its flagship store in Yarmouth and its Bury St Edmunds store.

And Palmers believes it has a secret weapon to fend off the Debenhams threat - 300 staff who take pleasure in making sure that customers always leave with a smile and the goods they wanted.

The company is now sending all staff - who must follow the mantra that you never say “no” to a customer - on extra training days to make sure they always put shoppers on a pedestal.

Jean Elam, Palmers' personnel manager, said: “Exceptional customer service has always been a tradition at Palmers and it is a vital part of our success. Store staff must have a good, chatty personality and must be interested in what the customer is saying at all times and understand what they want.”

When staff join Palmers their customer service skills are monitored for 12 weeks and they are all trained to handle complaints and make full refunds.

And Palmers is adamant that its 40,000 sq ft Yarmouth site will remain the town's premier store, with the addition of new ranges, including Phase Eight and Principles, by the end of the year.

A Debenhams branch in Market Gates should be open by the end of the year.

Bruce Sturrock, Palmers' managing director, said: “We welcome the challenge from Debenhams as it inspires us to keep improving our stores and offer even more to our loyal customers.”

Palmers, which is now owned by Mr Sturrock and fashion director Wendy Cole, has an annual turnover of £20m and it also has a homes store in Bury, a Dereham branch and also Chadds in Lowestoft.

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