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.
For the last 12 months Lets Talk Shop Ltd has been advising on, and managing, the major refurbishment and transformation of Windermere Business Centre into“Windermere Works”.
The concept to provide more flexible working space was identified in response to the recognition that many small, locally based businesses work from their spare bedrooms, converted garages or dining room tables. Business meetings are often centered on local cafes which, whilst providing a pleasant social environment, might not be the best of locations to openly discuss complex or confidential business issues.
This need has been resolved by the creation of a Hot Desk Hub, Meeting Place and Lounge available on a day basis or on a more permanent relationship where a range of bespoke business support opportunities can be incorporated into the arrangements. These could include call handling, mail management, hosting of seminars or special events. The facilities are also supported by a manned reception delivering a professional first point of contact for those visiting the premises and the businesses working within them.
Add to this the development of two larger fully serviced ground floor office suites, Bake House and Sugar Store and the refurbishment of smaller existing offices on the first floor, businesses seeking to expand their presence in the town, or even relocate into the area, now have an opportunity to occupy a high standard office environment, very different from other accommodation available locally.
With further phases of development in the pipeline the building, that was for many years home to Atkinsons Cake Works, is seeing a transformation that will ensure that Windermere Works for Businesswell into the future.
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.
Windermere Business Centre has been providing managed office space in the heart of Windermere for almost 20 years in addition to a variety of other business ventures.
Following recent developments in the management of this family owned business a major programme of investment is now underway. Ground floor space is being transformed to create a new reception area, a break out/business lounge, meeting space, hot desk provision and three separate areas of bespoke office accommodation providing 660, 720 and over 1000sq ft of modern managed office space.
Once home of Atkinsons Cake Factory, and dating back to the early 1900’s, some of the industrial heritage of the building is being recaptured in the refurbishment which, once completed, will enable a wider cross section of local business needs to be accommodated than has previously been possible.
Having been associated with the Business Centre for over a decade, and based within it for a number of years prior to establishing Let’s Talk Shop, it is pleasing that Lets Talk Shop Ltd has now been contracted to assist in the management of the Centre going forward and helping to drive development of the opportunities that it will provide for small to medium enterprise development in South Lakeland.
Watch this space for more news of this exciting development.
First floor space of 394 sq ft has recently become available – if you would like more details please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 015394 40020
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