When It Happens Panel Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
Hospice's shops boss moves to pastures new
THE man who has led the mass expansion of Helen & Douglas House charity shops in Oxfordshire is moving on after seven years.
David Cryer joined the hospice charity as head of retail in 2005, when only one shop was trading, in Oxford’s Covered Market.
Now it is set to add its 37th in Oxfordshire – on June 22 in Rose Hill – after which Mr Cryer, who lives in Faringdon, will step down to take up a role at national homelessness charity Shelter.
He was asked to launch new shops to help fund Douglas House, which was founded in 2003.
He said: “Originally the plan was to open 10 shops in the catchment area – we opened seven or eight and they were even more successful than we thought they would be.
“One of the reasons they were so successful was the financial conditions at the time, but also they raised the profile of the charity.”
The shops proved so successful that 20 were opened between 2008 and lasy year. Mr Cryer acknowledged that tough trading times on the high street had helped charities to expand in the retail market.
He said: “Like most things in business you have to be a little bit lucky and when we wanted to expand the recession kicked in and shops previously unavailable became available in places like Henley.”
Mr Cryer, who is also chairman of the Charity Retail Association, joined the charity from Marks & Spencer where he had developed the supermarket’s Simply Food chain of stores.
Today there are two Helen & Douglas House shops close to the Simply Food premises in Summertown.
He said: “When we were making inquiries about Summertown, one of the traders told me ‘you won’t be able to afford the rent now someone’s gone and put a Marks & Spencer’s there’ – and that was me.”
With the wave of new shops came the need for an army of volunteers. More than 1,000 were recruited to staff them.
Tom Hill, Helen & Douglas House’s chief executive, said: “The development of 36 shops across our region in only seven years is an amazing achievement.
“David has a real passion – not only for retailing, but for Helen House & Douglas House and the very special care that the charity provides to families. David has been a huge asset and a great friend to us.”