Night Rider

Tees fashion icon Steve Cochrane puts booming night-time trading in Middlesbrough down to Psyche’s continued success. Tees Life co-editor Dave Allan reports…

Psyche owner Steve Cochrane believes Middlesbrough’s booming evening economy is boosting his own award-winning fashion store as it celebrates 35 years at the heart of Teesside’s retail and fashion offering.

Psyche is continuing its impressive expansion with the launch of websites focused on the USA, Australia and the United Arab Emirates.

With annual sales at a record-breaking £9m, Psyche offers an instore and online shopping experience with well over 200 established brands and emerging designers including Moncler, Dries Van Noten, Paul Smith, Aquascutum and Armani.

But it is the entrepreneur’s steadfast commitment to his hometown that has seen the focus of Psyche’s ever-growing success story remain focused on Middlesbrough’s Linthorpe Road.

With plans to recruit eight new staff, Psyche will soon employ nearly 100 local people.

It’s all a far cry from the young punk reject who opened his first small fashion shop, Sliced Tomatoes, in Redcar in the early 1980s.

Having later opened his first Psyche store in Middlesbrough, Cochrane then moved to bigger things.

He recalls: “When I first said to the council in 2002 that I wanted to convert the old Uptons department store into Middlesbrough’s version of Harvey Nichols they were quite sceptical that we would pull it off.”

But that’s exactly what Cochrane did, with Psyche twice winning the UK Retailer of the Year Award, while the store’s national reputation has helped it to a hat-trick of Drapers Award successes.

Winners of the Drapers Independents award in 2016, Pscyche’s 180 designer brands now includes a who’s who of the fashion sector including Hugo Boss, Polo Ralph Lauren, Remus Oumo, Kenzo, Belstaff, YMC and many more.

“I think we’re now part of the fabric of the region and particularly of the town,” reflects Cochrane. “But I never expected in a million years for it to become this big. It’s just grown and grown and grown.

“It has evolved constantly and we’re still expanding. Online’s phenomenal – we sell all over the world.”

A new Durham store will open within weeks, while November will see the launch of psychefashion.com as the business targets the US market, with similar online projects focusing on Australia and United Arab Emirates early in 2018 before they trial foreign language sites.

And he believes the town’s increasing number of new restaurants and bars is helping to drive forward his store on a local level.

“Going back a few years everyone just went to Yarm, but now Norton is doing so well and Middlesbrough’s evening economy is absolutely brilliant,” he said.

“There are new bars and restaurants opening all the time which is adding to the critical mass. If you want to go to a bar or for something to eat in Middlesbrough you’re spoilt for choice. There are some high quality bars and restaurants in Middlesbrough now, which is fantastic.

“I think people’s aspirations are higher now but the more places there are to go then the more people will go out, and the more they go out then the knock-on effect is the more smart clothes they need to wear, so it’s self-supporting.”