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Is Heal's a Shoe Shop?

Published on November 18th 2005.

It’s nearly a year since Gordo attended a bash at Heal's, the store nearly next door to Harvey Nichols. Gordon Ramsay was doing a book launch there, I doubt anyone could afford him these days.

So, why the title of the piece? Manchester Confidential’s marketing department have been cooking up a deal for the readers recently in cohorts with Heal's; by all accounts you lot are about to be tempted into the store with exclusive offers and a couple of ‘platinum clients only’ shopping nights involving discounts, booze and cookery demonstrations. Our beloved readers are also about to be given the same status as the Heal's ‘best customer’ lists which affords numerous benefits; first look at the sales prices and the like. What, with Harvey Nichols as well, the mountains are coming to Mohammed, so to speak. Gordo thinks he had better give his three pennies worth first, mainly due to the fact that someone asked him the other day if Heal's is a shoe shop.

It ain’t. Although in London the brand is well known as a department store for the well heeled. Gordo spent a few years living in Knightsbridge two decades ago and kept himself fit by taking advantage of the fact that the sloaney girls appeared rather easy prey to a bit of rough like young Gordo, somewhat thinner and with more hair at the time. Mind you, when it came to spending money this lot knew the value of a shilling, even if they didn’t pay their personal favours the same compliment. The fact was that any store that was going to attract the ‘old money’ had to get superb quality at very competitive prices on the shelves. And this is what Heal's did. Along the way, they added design and quirkiness into what is now a fantastically successful mix, out Conran-ing Conran, so to speak.

In Manchester, Heal's is Tardis-like and covers four floors. In the basement we have lighting, home office, desks and storage. Ground floor covers accessories, toiletries, cutlery and kitchen stuff. First floor is furniture. Second floor is mainly bedroom and bathroom furniture and accessories, along with children’s furniture.

Well that was a list, so Gordo went over at lunchtime to put some meat on the bones and see if he could spot a few things that he could recommend to his loyal band of readers, along with those who shout ‘fat sexist pig’ at him in the street.

The first tip is to go nowhere else for your Christmas decorations. Dotted around the ground floor are a few absolute gems for the trees, as well as some very groovy little white ones, two feet tall. £15. Bargain. The baubles are so cool; blushed pink and some mirror drops with tiny mirror balls on the bottom, by Gisela Graham, at £4 they sound pricey but you need take a look, no one else will have them on their Christmas tree.

Go downstairs for half a floor of Christmas decorations along with some very sexy wrapping paper. And, the crackers. Oooh, the crackers. Somewhat like Andrea Warden, CEO of Heal's, they all look like they are well worth pulling.

Back up to the ground floor, there is a chocolate brown leather Foxx swivel chair that at £1450 is actually great value. As well as a design classic it is one of the most comfortable Gordo has sat in.

On the subject of chocolate, you can buy the original Charbonnel et Walker choccies; “Truffes Chocolat Champagne”, 130g for £10. Blokes, this is an absolute must stocking filler if your bird has looked after you this year. Sheer class. (Unlike you then, eh Gordo?- Ed) There are more (nicely) smelly candles than you can shake a stick at, by the way. Christmas present for your Mum? Heal's probably have the best selection of photo frames in Manchester, in particular the black and red ones priced at £15 to £20. Classy silver examples as well, nice and shiny.

One set of shelves is heaving under the weight of Molton Brown toiletries. It certainly appears to Gordo that they may well have the biggest selection in town. At £65, the Molton Brown toilet bag appears expensive, until you pick it up. Beautiful cream leather absolutely stuffed with their pick of the range, this needs to be bought for a very deserving lover.

Unusual Tin Tin back pack for kids, especially trendy ones. The dog, whose name escapes Gordo, is on the back as well. Well designed to boot, no one will get a bad back from these. £20. Another bargain.

Simon Carter, a well regarded, rare brand for men, is represented by some neat cufflinks using a pair of dice at £20, along with very trendy stripey, purpley scarves at £35, may well be one for your partner, brother, father, you name it, Gordo says it.

Another bloke present, a nicely published big book of James Bond movie posters from Dr No through to Die another Day. £18.99. Nice one.

Into the kitchen section and we find Jamie Oliver’s Professional Series Pans, alongside the Nigella Lawson ‘Living Kitchen’ range, another fairly complete set. Additionally lots and lots of well designed, well priced kitchen accessories.

Heal's stock some fine crockery, particularly worth looking at is the MIKA range, Gordo is buying a full set for his new flat. If you have a wine buff on your hands look at the glassware. A pair of tips from Gordo. The glass decanters would be welcome in his stocking. They are lovely as well as brilliantly practical. The choice ranges from £12 to an absolute belter by LSA Handmade, a traditional upright with the sexiest finely frosted perfect round ball stopper at £36. They all have good weight about them. Someone out there please take note. ;-)

Carrying on with the wine theme, if you buy wine glasses from anywhere else you need your head feeling. Heal's Loire range is unbeatable. Six goblets, great all-rounders are absolutely the right size, shape and weight for any wine. Don’t mess about, these are £15. Not each. For six of them!

Gordo hopes you get the message. He hasn’t yet gone into the three floors above, the furniture is going to be covered next week. However here is a best buy tip. He has spotted a true bargain, and a one-off. There is a stunning ex-display sofa in mint condition on the first floor in the far left hand corner; in cork linora fabric, it looks fab, but sit on it. Bloody fantastic. Lie on it and you will be in love. Reduced from over £2000 to £1200 quid or so. Go get it quick, if Gordo hadn’t paid folding money for his new sofas he would have taken it out of the store on his back.A Gordo Go.

Have you got any great recommendations for Xmas presents? Click here.

Do you want to be in the front of the queue when we get the invites out for the shopping evenings at Heal's? Click here.

0161 819 3000
11 New Cathedral Street
M1 1AD

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