PSYCHE, an independent retailer in the North-East, has been pipped to the title of the UK’s best department store – by Harrods.

Linthorpe Road, in Middlesbrough, may not have the same cachet as Knightsbridge, but the shop is determined to win the coveted accolade next year when it celebrates its 30th anniversary.

Psyche, owned by entrepreneur Steve Cochrane, made the shortlist at the Drapers Fashion Awards 2011 competing against Debenhams, Fields of Sidmouth, Goulds (Dorset), John Lewis and Harrods at the glamorous ceremony hosted by Tess Daly at the Grosvenor House Hotel, in London.

The store’s marketing manager, Paolo Capaldi, said the team was thrilled to have made it so far, but was confident it could do even better.

“It is a fantastic achievement. This year has seen a major redevelopment of our ladies and childrenswear departments, which have now relocated to a new 8,000sq ft area on the second floor of the store. The highly anticipated revamp now boasts one of the largest shoe and bag displays outside London with more than 1,000 shoes and bags to choose from.”

The next 12 months will see the development of a stand-alone Hugo Boss concession in the menswear department and the growth of its rapidly expanding website, which attracts nearly 20 per cent of its orders from overseas.

“For us, first class customer service is key and sets us apart,” Mr Capaldi said.

“Eighty per cent of our turnover is generated from 20 per cent of our customer base. We have got a really strong following, so it’s vital that we listen to what they want.”

Stocking 150 brands and employing about 50 staff, Psyche has a turnover of nearly £4m. It was launched in 1982 by Mr Cochrane, whose ambitious vision has kept him one step ahead of trendsetters.

He was followed around for a year in 2005 for a no-holds-barred BBC documentary, The Secret Life of the Shop, and, last year, was made an honorary doctor of business administration at Teesside University.

His next project is to build a £5m, 42- bedroom hotel and 170-seat restaurant on top of Psyche, a three-storey building formerly Uptons department store.

Councillor Charlie Rooney, Middlesbrough Council’s executive member for regeneration, said: “Psyche is a hugely important business to Middlesbrough and is instrumental in putting the town on the national retail map.

“To be shortlisted alongside such prominent high street names is testatment to the vision of Steve Cochrane and the hard work of his staff. We hope they go one better next year.”