Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 15.08.04A CHARITY has appointed a new retail manager as part of a drive to streamline existing outlets and take forward any future high street retail expansion plans.

Marie Leighton, of Stanley, County Durham, has taken on her new role for St Benedict’s Hospice in Ryhope, Sunderland.

Marie, who formerly worked for supermarket chain Iceland and national charity The Children’s Society, will be bringing her extensive retail experience to the hospice’s three shops, including their new furniture shop in Ryhope Road, Ryhope.

“I’m really looking forward to working with our store managers and all the volunteers to offer the best possible retail experience to shoppers,” said Marie.

“Charity shops today need to be clean, airy and clutter free. It’s about bringing them more in line with other high street shops and endeavouring to gain the maximum income possible from the goods that are so kindly donated by members of the public.

“At the same time we want to offer customers the chance to feel that they’re getting a bargain while they support their local hospice. I’m really looking forward to joining the hospice.”

As part of her role, Marie is planning to work closely with the Job Centre and education providers to offer people volunteering placements with an NVQ qualification.

Said Marie: “It’s a great way of people gaining new skills. It means they’ll be able to have a qualification in retail, as well as the experience of working in that environment.”

Catrina Flynn, fundraising manager at St Benedict’s said the charity planned to open more shops in the future.

“We think Marie, with her enthusiasm and extensive experience in the world of charity retailing, will do a fantastic job for the hospice.

“The selling of items donated to us by the public is a very valuable source of income.  We obviously have overheads to pay but it’s vital our shops are offering the best retail experience as the profits they raise enables the charity to make a real difference to our patients and their families.”