In November 1995 two Stornoway sisters embarked upon a new initiative – opening a ladies clothing store in the town centre. Roll on 22 years and Influence is a major part of Stornoway’s shopping experience, now attracting even more new customers to its much-expanded new store on Cromwell Street.

Despite some teething troubles caused by telecoms problems, the store has been a runaway success since opening a fortnight ago.

Originally opened on Point Street under the moniker Bad Influence, sisters Catriona Murray and Ann Macleod set out from the start to offer something new to the island market.

Then they moved up to road to Francis Street, in part of the former print room of what used to be the Stornoway Gazette. Now they have gained hugely from the disappearance of Scottish Hydro from the High Streets of Scotland – particularly with vastly increased storage for their extended range of products.

“Our aim from the outset was to provide something a little bit different from what was already available in town, at prices people could afford,” says Catriona. “In 1995 there was no such thing as internet shopping and certainly less people visited the mainland – our greatest competitors were catalogues and, of course, Nazir Brothers!”


After its arrival in Francis Street, Influence went from strength to strength, developing not only its clothing range, but also diversifying into accessories, soft furnishings and, latterly, upcycled furniture, which has a prominent part of the window display in the new shop.

As well as clothes for all occasions, bags galore, colourful scarves and socks, purses and gloves, Influence also delivers a wonderful plethora of ornaments, wall hangings, picture frames, cushions, cups, saucers, scented burners and candles – they aim to have something to pique everyone’s interest.