A Malvern shop owner says his new rescue dog is a hit with customers.

Sean Austin, who owns Austin & Co in Great Malvern, is encouraging more businesses to become dog-friendly.

Sean adopted two-year-old labrador Lucy from Team Edward Labrador Rescue a few months ago.

And she’s proved so popular that Sean has had to message several customers to tell them when she’ll be in the shop.

Lucy’s popularity has come as no surprise to Sean who says he was always being outshone by his old labrador.

“Nessa, who we sadly lost earlier this year, was better known than I was,” he said. “She was always ‘the dog from the card shop’ and I was just some random bloke walking her.

Malvern Gazette: Labrador Lucy in Austin & CoLabrador Lucy in Austin & Co

“Now we have Lucy. She's currently in part-time apprentice mode but fully expect her to be a full-time fixture soon.”

Austin & Co was named the most dog-friendly shop in the UK for five years in a row before Covid and best independent greeting card retailer for Wales and the Midlands for 2021.

“It’s always about being a bit different to the homogeneity of the high street and selling what you know,” said Sean. “I know cards, stationery and dogs.

Malvern Gazette: Lucy often joins shop owner Sean Austin at workLucy often joins shop owner Sean Austin at work

'Lucy helps me sell'

“Lucy is a great icebreaker – customers will start to talk about their dogs, we share stories, and that builds a rapport that results in people following us on social media and making return visits.

“Lucy helps me sell and garners the most likes on social media, but at the end of the day, she is my pet dog. She’s here because I want her to be here. Anything she does to help promote the shop or help with the sales of a particular line is secondary.”

Malvern Gazette: Malvern shop dog LucyMalvern shop dog Lucy

Research conducted by Metro Bank suggests nearly half of UK consumers have gone into a shop because of a shop dog, while 79% have spent money because a dog is inside.

Sean added: “Knowing that by simply allowing a dog into the shop it can result in a sale that may have otherwise been missed should be a good incentive for people to make their businesses dog-friendly.”