FEATURE: Fields of Sidmouth hopes to continue supporting the community

The two of the directors Beki Murphy and Chris Gould.

The two of the directors Beki Murphy and Chris Gould. - Credit: Archant

Tell us a bit about your history?

The two of the directors Beki Murphy and Chris Gould.

The two of the directors Beki Murphy and Chris Gould. - Credit: Archant

Fields Department Store has been retailing on its existing site since 1809.

It was traditionally a draper’s shop and in the mid 20th century, members of staff were still employed to make clothes and hats for ladies and men.

John Field then acquired the business in the 1870s.

Fields has over the years been expanded and modernised.

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Since the business was bought by Goulds of Dorchester at the end of 2015, most areas of the store have been updated, with the upstairs restaurant being the latest to enjoy refurbishment.

Where do you see the business in five years’ time?

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It is very important to be involved with the local community and we like to support as many causes as possible.

For example, we have supported Sidmouth Classic Car Show, Sidmouth Science Festival and other local charities, along with our charity of the year 2018 Sidmouth Hospiscare.

Over the years, Fields has also been a big supporter of Sidmouth Lifeboat, the Sid Valley Memory Cafe and the Admiral Nurse Campaign.

Additionally, not only does Fields work with Sidmouth College, offering advice and work experience, but we also offer beauty demonstrations to groups such as Sidmouth Living with Cancer Support Group.

We hope that this investment will serve the store well and see Fields at the heart of Sidmouth for many a year to come.

How did it feel to win your award?

We were delighted to win this award and it means a great deal to us particularly as our customers voted for us.

What advice do you have for anyone thinking of starting their own business in Sidmouth?

What makes Sidmouth different, in my personal opinion, is the independent shops.

I have lost track of the number of times I’ve heard it said that ‘it’s lovely that it’s not just another high street’.

With all new business start ups, I think the main thing is to do market research – what does the demographic of Sidmouth really need?

Is there anyone you’d like to thank?

We would like to thank all our customers for their continued support over the years.

What the judges said:

“This iconic showpiece department store has been a core part of Sidmouth’s retail life for over 200 years.

“It changed hands recently but remains a family-run independent business and the envy of many towns much larger than ours.

“But it is more than that – it prioritises good service and friendly, helpful staff.”

The judges also mentioned the recent improvements and investments, noting that it was not just a business resting upon its laurels.

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