The first 101 places to benefit from up to £25 million each from the Future High Streets Fund was announced over summer. The latest step of the £3.6 billion investment in towns and high streets is the selection of 20 pilot areas across England that, it is hoped, will lead the way in rejuvenating town centres following the provision of expert and tailored support from the High Streets Task Force.
14 of these 20 pilot areas were announced on 30th December.
During 2020, the Government is planning to invest hundreds of millions of the £1 billion Future High Streets Fund across the country in projects that have emerged within the initial towns already announced.
The 14 areas identified for tailored support are:
Salford – Swinton Town Centre
Croydon – Thornton Heath
Staffordshire Moorlands – Cheadle
Rushmoor – Aldershot Town Centre
Birmingham – Stirchley
Hyndburn – Accrington Town Centre
South Lakeland – Kendal
Preston – Friargate
Coventry – Coventry City Centre
Hartlepool – Hartlepool Town Centre
Cheshire West and Chester – Ellesmere Port Town Centre
Following a recent revisit to high street shops in Haddington, Musselburgh, North Berwick, Dunbar and Prestonpans our Shop Doctor is now busy producing reports updating recommendations made to the participating businesses during this fourth phase of work for East Lothian Council.
Many of the businesses had already benefited from the recommendations with some able to move forward to implement some of the more challenging opportunities within their shops.
One, Blueberry had recently moved premises to a similar shaped but larger shop and transferred many of the ideas relating to potential improvements within their old shop into the new one.
Dunbar Community Bakery had undergone the most extensive work delivering a much brighter and more attractive interior that was not only an improvement for customers but made working within the shop much easier. Hopefully the excellent upgrade will help enhance sales and onward profitability.
The relocated counter at Flowers by Arrangement in Musselburgh had materially improved accessibility around the shop by opening up the entrance and exposing more of the shelving on the right hand side. Still more improvements to come, especially to the lighting.
May 2017 saw yet another round of Shop Doctor visits to East Lothian involving businesses in Musselburgh, Gullane, Elphinstone, North Berwick, Dunbar and Haddington.
Following the successful format of previous visits all of the businesses enrolled in the scheme (administered by East Lothian Council) were invited to attend an evening workshop which provided an important insight into the opportunities available to bricks and mortar shops to present an attractive and engaging presence on their high street to help attract customers into third businesses.
The days following the workshop provided opportunity for our Shop Doctor to spend time at each of the participating businesses providing in depth one to one advice focused on identifying cost effective solutions to enhance their business performance.
A diverse range of businesses once again took part in the scheme including:
The Shop Doctor will be returning to East Lothian at the end of January to revisit businesses in Haddington, Dunbar, North Berwick and Cockenzie.
“This will be my 6th trip to East Lothian” says Bill, “it is always good to catch up with the great range of retail operators that have previously participated in my Let’s Talk Shop Advisory programmes”.
Dependent upon retailer interest it is hoped that a further round of Let’s Talk Shop support will be facilitated later in the year in conjunction with East Lothian Council.
Tuesday April 12th sees the commencement of another round of Let’s Talk Shop activity across East Lothian.
Following presentation of an evening retail workshop in Haddington on Tuesday 12th our Shop Doctor will be carrying out up to ten one-to-one advisory visits to independent retailers in the area during the rest of the week.
This will be the third occasion that Let’s Talk Shop has been contracted by East Lothian Council to work with retailers and the initial visits will be followed up with a revisit to monitor progress and identify any new opportunities later in the year.
In my recent revisit to retailers in Kirkcudbright it was pleasing to see that many had taken on board recommendations made to them following my original one-to-one visits.
Internal changes implemented within many of the shops was identified as helping to materially improve the way customers “shopped the shop” and contributed towards a more active retail environment during what had not been the best of trading years.
Grant assistance from Dumfries & Galloway Council had also enabled a number of the businesses to upgrade their shopfront presentation and the examples show some after (on the left) and before (on the right) images of a small selection of the businesses visited.
Whilst some changes are quite subtle (such the graphics in the window at Belfry Cafe) and the simple repaint at Wm Law other retailers such as Kennedy’s and Tollbooth Gifts have delivered more dynamic change and materially improved their impact in the town.
With the majority of shops in Kirkcudbright occupied the town presented a varied and active retail environment and, like so many of the towns in Dumfries & Galloway, one well worth visiting.
Thought provoking and entertaining insight into the effective use of the ever changing world of Social Media from Justin and always enlightening to hear the story of the online development of Rosetta Brands.
The Invest in South Lakeland Team at South Lakeland District Council are holding a free Business and Networking Event on Thursday 10 March at Low Wood Hotel, Ambleside.
Taking your product to the online market
Nick Comer, Rosetta Brands Ltd
Improving your high street presence
Bill Smith, The Shop Doctor, Let’s Talk Shop Ltd
Social Media & Twitter for Business
Justin Grammer, PS Business Matters
Doors will open from 6pm for networking, refreshments and registration and the event will start at 6.30pm finishing at 8.30pm.
This free event is open to any South Lakeland businesses including those wanting to re-locate to this area.
Please register online on www.southlakeland.gov.uk/b2b (please note that places are limited to 2 attendees per company).
The Invest in South Lakeland Team at SLDC
It cannot be easy to see your business devastated by flood water, and undoubtedly heartbreaking to see the business you have worked so hard to develop washed away through no fault of your own.
With an understandable desire to get the business back into operation as quickly as possible there is often limited time available to consider whether or not changes to the internal layout of the shop might deliver new business opportunities.
But if you are starting again with a relatively blank canvas do not rush to reinstate what was there before. An opportunity exists to address layout issues that might have previously impacted negatively on the way customers ‘shopped the shop’ . Careful placement of replacement shelving might help alter the way customers circulate; identifying and maximising the impact of new selling hot-spots can help generate additional sales and improving merchandising techniques is easier when you are having to stock the shelves from scratch.
It might even be practical to relocate the counter, just because things have always been in a certain position does not mean that they are in the best position for your business in the future.
Identifying new opportunities, on top of everything else required to get the business up and running again, might deliver some challenges, but it is time that could be well spent.
We would be only too happy to discuss with you how our extensive expertise could help ensure that opportunities are not missed and help identify the silver lining available for your business in the future
SLDC Business Rates – All premises are exempt for 3 months if empty. Industrial premises receive up to 6 months if they become empty. We would only be seeking to confirm whether the flooding had affected the whole premises and preventing any trade from the site. Consideration will be given, where appropriate, to extend these periods via means of a local scheme which is awaiting approval, specific to the flooding. Contact SLDC Taxation Team 01539 793245 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Time To Pay – This scheme allows affected businesses additional time to pay taxes to HMRC, including VAT, PAYE and corporation tax. For further details contact the HMRC hotline on 0800 904 7900, set up for those who have been affected by flooding and may have difficulties in meeting their tax liabilities. To apply to the Time To Pay Scheme call 0300 200 3835 and discuss with an adviser.
Federation of Small Businesses For Members: for insurance related issues, irrespective of being a policy-holder, contact FSB Insurance on 0345 762 6158. Contact the Legal Advice Line on 03450 727 727 for any legal aspects to the flood and clean-up. The legal documents section of the website also has useful support (log-in required) www.fsb.org.uk For Non- Members: call FSB Insurance Advice Line on 03450 727 727 and speak to Steve Dawson. For employment support: contact Brian Harrison on email@example.com or 01539 730382 For practical support: contact Paul Foster on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07917 628909. Cumbria Tourism – Working with FSB to ensure the impact of the tourism sector is fully captured, and assisted with Government financial support. Please complete it here: https://www.snapsurveys.com/wh/s.asp?k=144948183547
Helpful guidance and updates on the floods are here www.cumbriatourism.org/home/december-floods-guidance. A helpline is available for affected businesses, contact 01539 822222 or email@example.com
United Utilities – Water bills are being suspended for customers who have been forced from their premises, businesses should contact 0345 072 6072. Customers will need to supply a temporary address along with the flooded address. For any water or wastewater issues, call 0345 6723 723. www.unitedutilities.com/emergencies-incidents.aspx corporate.unitedutilities.com/news-media.aspx
Electricity North West – Emergency Contact 0800 195 4141 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet @ElectricityNW
Cumbria County Council – contact 01228 606060