AN INDEPENDENT stationer has opened a second Oxford store, in order to save the jobs of his staff and allow customers to safely social distance.

Azeem Zakria, owner of Scriptum in Turl Street, has signed a temporary lease with Lincoln College for the empty unit formerly occupied by The Leather Shop next door.

That store has twice the floor space, meaning staff can work across both shops and customers can socially distance.

Within a week of signing the lease, 45-year-old Mr Zakria and staff at Scriptum, which has been closed since March, have been busy preparing the new unit for opening.

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He said: “Last week, I was thinking how was I going to be able to keep all these jobs but this second shop will allow us to distribute all our products across two shops.

“I spoke to the college last Friday and now we’re opening within a week.

“It’s a much bigger space, which will allow social distancing to work perfectly.

“We’re making these changes in order for the shop to be more Covid secure and it will also allow me to keep all the staff’s jobs.

Oxford Mail:

“I also didn’t want to be next door to an empty shop so it’s one less closed shop on an historic Oxford street.

“This was the perfect opportunity to keep all the team and potentially take on more staff at Christmas.”

Turl Street is home to three of the University of Oxford’s most historic colleges - Exeter, Jesus and Lincoln.

While the store was closed during lockdown, Mr Zakria focussed on ways to improve the online aspect of the business, while also looking at trying out new products.

He said: “During lockdown, we’ve been trying to make the online business much more luxurious and improve the online experience for customers.

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“There are lots of new products and lines that have been designed, which will be launched across the shops.

“There’s a lockdown journal which comes with a lock, as well as new greetings cards and other new journals.

“We’ll also be selling some new things such as antiques and smalls.”

Scriptum has also recently been nominated for the best indepedent retailer in the south of England, at the Stationery Awards.

Last year, the store scooped the best window display award.

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Mr Zakria first opened Scriptum in the Golden Cross in May 2003, remaining there until July 2006.

It was then that he relocated to Turl Street.

The store sells over 100 types of journal and colours of ink, in addition to fountain pens, quills and photo albums.

From Saturday, September 5, both shops will be open seven days a week, after the original store has some refurbishment work completed.