Having rode out one recession 17 years ago Keith Allan has found himself in the midst of another. His new approach is to bring independent rural businesses together in a cluster which may not be a new trend but it's one that's helping some small firms gain a foothold during the recession. Clustering together helps to reduce the overheads as everyone is helping towards the running of the place.
Mr Allan runs an architectural antiques business in north Northumberland and he is behind The Old Dairy which is made up of a collection of converted stables. Mr Allan said: “Within the buildings are a number of loose box stables – very much traditional stables – and we thought it would be nice to invite like-minded businesses to come in. Currently we have three or four businesses in the stables. It increases the variety of stock, one specialises in marine antiques – ships wheels, clocks, portholes – and one is curios, the place lends itself to that. People like to come out into the countryside – more and more people are shopping out of town. To come to a lovely country area like this – there’s a wonderful story here, the Battle of Flodden took place 500 years ago on the doorstep."
Although Mr Allan acknowledges that people are spending less money in the recession but suggests that, "you have to be optimistic as much as you can be in these tough times. Paradoxically, it can be a good time to start a business as you can negotiate better rents."