Meet The Levy Payer: Signature Menswear
As the owner of Signature and Signature 2 on Union Street, Patrick Ritchie knows all about making his customers look their best – and that is exactly what he wants for the Granite Mile, too.
Patrick is a passionate advocate for celebrating Union Street as Aberdeen’s “unique selling point” and making it the best it can be for its entire length. He shared his thoughts on the city centre, his thriving business and what he thinks the future holds when we caught up to find out more about Signature Menswear.
Tell us about Signature Menswear…
We have been here since 1986, the original shop was on George Street, and we have just evolved over the years. The original owner died in 2002 and I took the business over.
We are top-end menswear. Signature 2 (256 Union Street) is slightly younger, a bit more sporty, Paul Smith and Ralph Lauren. Over in Signature (349 Union Street) it’s a more mature customer, we do what we call quiet luxury, it’s quite a grown-up, smarter thing we do in Signature.
So, what are the benefits for you and Signature Menswear of being an Aberdeen Inspired levy payer?
I guess the biggest compliment I can pay to Aberdeen Inspired is City Centre Manager Innes Walker. He helped us a couple of years ago when we needed some scaffolding removed on Union Street and he was straight on the case.
The other point about Aberdeen Inspired is it gives businesses like mine a stepping stone as opposed to going straight to the council. It gives us somewhere to air our grievances and if there’s something that can be done, then we would usually get the support of Aberdeen Inspired. But Innes is without doubt the shining light of Aberdeen Inspired.
What are our plans for Signature and Signature 2 for the next 12 months?
The unique thing that we have being a menswear shop is that the shop changes every six months. We are just coming out of the summer sale period with autumn and winter stock now on sale. The whole shop’s decoration and internals change with the arrival of new stock.
We’ve taken on a couple of new labels for Signature we are excited about and carrying on with Ralph Lauren and Paul Smith across the road in Signature 2. They are so strong for us. Likewise, over here in Signature we do so well with Gant, Paul & Shark and Belstaff and we are continuing on with those labels.
What advice would you give to new businesses looking to start in the city centre?
It’s a tough one. The template I would advise would be to set up off Union Street first to get yourself established, get yourself a clientele, get yourself a customer base. Then, after three or four years, you could look to come to Union Street.
What would be the biggest improvement to the city centre in your opinion?
The unique selling point of Aberdeen is Union Street. It’s the Granite Mile. Let’s stop knocking Union Street, let’s celebrate it.
We’re lucky enough to be up in the West End of the town. If you look around us at the top quarter of Union Street, we’ve got the Capitol Building, Silver Fin and Union Plaza. We’ve got some cracking pubs, great restaurants, and really good independent retail. Let’s celebrate that. That’s what Union Street should be like. If we could extend the West End’s ethos onto the whole of Union Street, that would be fantastic. That’s what we’re needing.
We need to encourage people to come into Union Street. At the moment, there’s a couple of issues preventing that from happening. Obviously, the bus gate issue is going on just now and I think they are very confusing. Then there’s the parking. If you want to encourage people to come into the centre of your city, how can you charge over £3 an hour? It’s a policy that is against what businesses on Union Street need. We need affordable parking for a longer period of time – so that you can meet for a coffee or lunch and then go shopping.
A basic thing we need to encourage is to get the shopfronts and all the units cleaned up. I walk down Union Street and see bushes and shrubs coming out of gutters and all that needs cleaned up.
What is your favourite place or thing to do in the city centre?
The way I relax is to play golf, so I love losing golf balls at Deeside. But in the city centre, I love the restaurants, I love the pubs. There is plenty of things to do and plenty of places to go. Some of the old pubs have reinvented themselves. If you go to Under The Hammer, The Noose And Monkey, McNasty’s, The Queen Vic… they’re cracking pubs and you’ll find me there most weekends.
You can find more about Signature Menswear at https://www.signature-menswear.com/
Follow Signature Menswear on Facebook here.
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