Royal Pavilion Shop Within the Royal Pavilion

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Royal Pavilion Shop Within the Royal Pavilion's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Royal Pavilion Shop Within the Royal Pavilion is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles
Highlighting best practice
Head Buyer and Retail Manager,
NIcki Carter
Our vibrant and sustainably-
sourced range
The Royal Pavilion is Brighton’s premier visitor attraction.
An exotic palace built as a seaside retreat for George IV,
the Pavilion is an architectural blend of Regency splendour
with the visual styles of both India and China. Several rooms
within are iconic, namely its banqueting room, music room,
the recently restored saloon and Queen Victoria’s bedroom.
The Royal Pavilion gift shop provides a vast range of products
displaying the vibrant aesthetic of each of these rooms. Head
Buyer and Retail Manager Nicki Carter explains precisely why
people fall in love with the Pavilion and the beautiful high-
quality products that her team supply.
Our high season runs from April to September. Throughout this period, we
entertain a great many visitors from overseas, many of whom are students who are
completely intrigued and enthused by the captivating style of the Pavilion. It’s for
these people that the products in our gift shop are so important – many of them
wish to take away something entirely unique to remind them of their enchanting
experience of the palace.
The products we sell vary from simple pens and handbag mirrors to tote bags,
jigsaw puzzles and tea towels. Everything we provide is very much grounded in the
visual theme of the palace, and of the individual rooms themselves; for instance,
we recently released a new product range including a silk scarf to tie in with the
stunning colours used in the restoration of the saloon. During our busy period
through the summer, we also offer and promote our British Icon range, which
includes more British-themed gifts that appeal to our international visitors.
»Head Buyer and Retail
Manager: Nicki Carter
»The Royal Pavilion was built in
»Based in Brighton
»Services: Gift shop at The
Royal Pavilion
»No. of employees: 6 in retail,
but The Royal Pavilion’s staff
team is cross-trained
»Nicki and her team are
passionate about sourcing
products sustainably
»Nicki has been Head Buyer at
The Royal Pavilion for 9 years
The Royal Pavilion
We supply everything from stationery
to homeware, and considering that
we have such vivid environments to
draw on, we find that developing the
products is easy. After that, we ensure
that the products are sourced ethically
and, where possible, locally. Our
creative team possess a real capacity
for attention to detail, and they make
the procurement process not only
seamless, but thoroughly enjoyable.
New themes, new ranges,
new quality
We’re always working on new ranges
and always trying to expand. Through
the Christmas period of 2018,
for example, we offered dragon-
themed items to tie in with the
year’s Christmas trail. Going forward,
we are looking at offering more
products related to both our Saloon
development and George IV himself.
Season to season, however, it can
be difficult to pin down both trends
themselves and how long they’ll stay
popular for. As such, we always have
to ensure that we’re taking existing,
popular products forward.
We do recognise that there are always
things we can change or improve.
With our work in procurement, we
use the metaphor of a sieve – it isn’t
just a case of buying things and
putting them on the shelves; it’s about
distilling everything we do to find out
what works year on year. At present,
we’re as proud of it as we ever have
been; getting supplier quality right
was a massive leap forward, and I am
personally so happy that we have local
companies creating products that are
of such high quality.
Cross-training our team
As a local authority service, we don’t
have an unlimited pool of resources
and therefore have to work as
creatively as we can with our staff.
Over the past four years, we’ve been
investing heavily in developing our
front-of-house workforce, moving
away from specialist roles like retail,
visitor information and admission, to
create a team that can multitask and
support each other as seamlessly as
possible. By way of our award-winning
workforce development programme,
we have also been able to offer staff
placement opportunities in other
departments, including conservation,
programming, curation, marketing
This has been enriching for both staff
members and the Pavilion as a whole,
and it has really fostered a mutual
understanding of the service in its
entirety. It has also resulted in a much
richer visitor experience – many staff
have developed skills, knowledge
and confidence as a result of their
placements, ultimately generating
new visitor products, deeper public
engagement and increased opportunity
for income generation.
We’ve always found that cross-
trained staff are more enthusiastic
and interested in their work and thus
sell our products better. I’ve tried to
share the knowledge that I’ve acquired
during my time at the Pavilion through
encouraging people to collaborate.
We sell everything from
jigsaw puzzles and
tote bags to pens and
handbag mirrors
Everything we
provide is very
grounded in
the visual
theme of the
Highlighting best practice
Supplier sustainability
We have a real desire to be ethical
and sustainable, and have been using
Fairtrade suppliers for many years. For
the items we sell, finding products
that have, for instance, no plastic
is a real challenge. “Pocket money
products” that appeal predominantly
to young children might have to go
altogether – and that’s a significant
portion of ourrange.
We are trying to phase out single-use
plastic products to instead concentrate
on selling items from sustainable
sources, but ensuring supplier
responsibility from multiple sources is no
easy feat. It’s something of a minefield –
we’ve found that a lot of companies just
state that what they supply is ethically
sourced and Fairtrade, but they often
can’t produce the evidence to support
this. With every passing year, suppliers
are realising that they have to be more
and more mindful of their products’
origins, but procurement is still difficult.
Cutbacks and pricing after
the referendum
After local authority funding cuts, like
many other organisations across the
country, we’ve had to cut back on staff
in recent years. We have enough to
get us through day to day, but when
somebody leaves a role, it can’t always
be filled immediately. This means that
many of our team have to cover and
learn new skills – it’s good that this
inspires cross-training and diversity
in one’s work, but it’s nonetheless
difficult for staff. Employee wellbeing
is important; ensuring regular support
with one-to-one supervision is a key
factor of our business success.
We’ve also seen our cost base increase
since the referendum decision. I’m no
expert on the situation, but I can only
see this becoming even more of an
issue over the next few months. We
don’t need any more barriers when it
comes to dealing with suppliers, and
we don’t need people to buy fewer
products from us.
Nonetheless, my team and I are
excited about the future. I do worry a
bit about the situation with Europe,
and some uncertainty on a more local
level, but I am personally confident
that the knowledge, experience and
continued persistence of our team will
lead us to further successes in an ever-
We’re always
working on
new ranges
and always
trying to
An exterior shot of The
Royal Pavilion

This article was sponsored by Royal Pavilion Shop Within the Royal Pavilion. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy