CHARITY shops must become more "upmarket" to compete on the high street, says the south coast retail manager of the Sailors' Society.

Paul Long-Collins spoke about the challenges faced by the retail sector as the Society opened a shop in Poole.

He said the branch at 116s High Street "ditches the fusty image traditionally associated with charity shops in favour of a fresh approach".

"Charities are realising that we need to move away from the car boot or jumble sale feel, towards giving customers a more upmarket and enjoyable experience," he said.

“The high street is becoming more competitive with so many charities in the retail market, so we’ve been driven by a new vision to make charity retail more exciting."

The branch features industrial décor including container-like dressing rooms and crates to reflect its work with merchant seafarers.

Mr Long-Collins, who has previously worked with household-name brands including B&Q, John Lewis and Wyevale Garden Centres, added: “When our Eastleigh shop opened earlier this year, it attracted a lot of attention – people were queuing around the block to see what was on show.”

The Poole shop is the third of four new shops the charity plans to roll out this year, with a final shop due to open in Southampton. It already has long serving shops in Farnborough and Aberdeen as well as new shops in Eastleigh and Salisbury.

Sailors’ Society’s director of development, Adam Stacey, said: “These shops are a way for us to diversify our income so that, even in these challenging financial times, we can continue the vital work we do supporting hundreds of thousands of seafarers in need around the world."