Institute of Place Management Article

Let’s do something radical to boost town centres

By Simon Quin, Director Institute of Place Management

The Daily Mirror on Saturday 3rd March ran a story headlined “Britain’s high streets becoming ‘ghost towns’ due to brutal closures” which detailed further retail collapses, the high level of retail vacancy in some centres, notably Stoke-on-Trent, Dewsbury and Newport, and words of worry from retail expert Richard Another great article from Place MagazineHyman. The story highlighted concerns from Richard Hyman that many retailers are in denial over changing shopping habits and also contained various references from local retailers to the perceived lack of or wrong response from local authorities.

Institute of Place Management Findings

Research by the Institute of Place Management published in the Journal of Place Management and Development (Improving the vitality and viability of the UK High Street by 2020: Identifying priorities and a framework for action) notes that “dramatic changes have been a constantly recurring theme” in respect of retail centres as they have seen the rise of department stores, chain stores, supermarkets, shopping malls, the impact of refrigeration, increased car ownership, retail deregulation, out of town retailing and online. Having undertaken a systematic review of the literature relating to retail centres and then working with stakeholders in 10 town centres, we were able to identify some two hundred factors that can impact on town centre health. Most significantly we also identified the 25 most important factors that are controllable locally.

The 4 Rs of Regeneration

The research identified the ‘4 Rs of Regeneration’. The first of these is Repositioning and requires collaboration amongst different stakeholders to share and analyse data and information about what is happening in the town centre.  Do stakeholders, whether from the public, private or community sector, really understand the forces of change that are For support for Town and City Centre contact Institute of Place Managementimpacting their centre? In the Daily Mirror article Richard Hyman suggests they do not and we agree. We are currently working to develop dashboards that stakeholders can access to monitor the performance of their centre looking at key indicators like footfall and sales. Repositioning enables towns to recognise the failure of previous strategies, identify new ways of expanding economic activity, and find ways to improve existing retailing.

The second R is Reinventing. Individual retailers are very familiar with this. They adapt opening hours to different circumstances, they segment their stores to fit market niches, they adapt the store to meet the physical requirements of the individual unit. How can this be applied town wide? We think it is essential to understand the customers you are looking to serve. To know what kind of town you are and to meet those customers’ needs, and not just retail needs. Find out what you can about the people who use your town and remember that some towns have many visitors that will not be obvious in a simple look at the catchment area.

Rebranding is the third R. This is about communicating the image and identity of your town. What is different, what is unique about you? It is now recognised that good place brands cannot be imposed from above but need to be something that reach the right audience by advertising in Place Magazineis co-created, hence again requiring collaboration and engagement.

Restructuring is the final R and in some instances is the most difficult to achieve. It is the recognition that old systems are not working, that strategic networks and partnerships need to be created to address the scale of challenge. We are seeing the difference that Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) are making to town and city centres around the country. These actively engage many more of the location stakeholders in decision-making, which is why the Institute of Place Management is keen to support them through The BID Foundation. A BID takes time to establish and it is not the only route to Restructuring. Local partnerships can be established, but they need to be strategic to be effective.

Some articles you read would suggest that all high streets are set to collapse. That this is not the case should encourage you to take the steps you need in your centre. In 2010, Altrincham, one of the 10 towns we worked with on the High Street research, was the town making headlines as a ghost town. Retail vacancy was around a third of units. Today the town is a thriving centre, vacancy has plummeted, footfall has risen by a quarter, new businesses are arriving and new investment is happening. You can read more in the Manchester Evening News article from February  ‘From ghost town to boom town – how Altrincham became the place to be’. We feature Altrincham’s story in our research article along with other useful initiatives in 9 other towns.

It is time to do something radical and adopt a new approach for your town if you want it to have a future.

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Wolverhampton BID – Life as a Project Manager in a BID

The many joys of being a Project Manager within Wolverhampton BID

Since joining Wolverhampton BID in April in the role of Projects Manager it’s opened my eyes to the diverse skills and multi-tasking requirements of the role, working in a busy BID office. Drawing on my extensive retail and customer service background it has enabled me to redirect the focus & role of the BID Ambassador Team, from its original street warden patrols and general public engagement role to an integral support role for both City centre visitors to Wolverhampton and the BID businesses within the city.

Life experineces such as this are always featured in Place Magazine
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The refocused approach was brought about by the recruitment of 3 new members of the team Jo, Sally and Heidi, who joined the original members Wendy and Mick.  There was real emphasis that the new members needed to compliment and strengthen the existing team, whilst having strong customer service focus in their skill sets. The new team members brought with them a wealth of retail and customer service experience, an ability to see in great depth the city centre from the business’s perspective. Luckily for the businesses, visitors and shoppers of Wolverhampton the new approach and team has paid dividends, as the drive and enthusiasm they express towards the goals of Wolverhampton BID and the thriving city centre is infectious.

The Ambassador Team is so much more than just a meet and greet service, they are the friendly face of the city centre, the walking talking visitor information service, the travel information team, first aid support, the business engagement team and 2 members of team have also successfully achieved SIA CCTV operator status, , thus ensuring that they can strengthen the Join Revive & Thrive - a membership for all people passionate about placesupport offered to the levy payers, they can monitor, assist and direct resources to deal with negative behaviour within the city centre – they really are the eyes and ears of the city, and no 2 days are ever the same.

As re-ballot in 2020 is fast approaching we would hope that the hard work of both the Ambassadors and the Wolverhampton BID team to meet the wants, needs and expectations of the business community have been understood, met or exceeded, and that the re vote for a second term supports the future of Wolverhampton city centre and its businesses to grow, be prosperous and support the continued growth and regeneration of this great city.

Shaun Boyce, Projects Manager
Wolverhampton BID

How to improve the health of your high street

Five things you can do for your High Street

By Cathy Parker & Simon Quin, Institute of Place Management

Can you improve the health of your High Street? Newly published research suggests there are initiatives that can be effective but they require partnership and collaboration.  Town and City Centre - Institute of Place Management

Although some did better than others, many retailers posted disappointing figures for High Street sales over the Christmas period. There are many reasons for this, not least the growth in online retailing, but research by the Institute of Place Management shows that decline has been a long time in the making. The fundamental reason high streets are struggling is that decision make

 

rs and stakeholders are not adapting effectively because they don’t act collectively.

Stories about the high street are always featured each month in Place Magazine
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The High Street UK 2020 research findings identified 201 things that can improve the vitality and viability of traditional retail areas. Not all are relevant everywhere and not all can be locally implemented. The 201 factors were assessed by leading experts as part of the research project and the five most important have been identified.

Top of the list of priorities is ensuring the trading and activity hours of the location meet the needs of the catchment. Many shops and services are stuck in a 9-5 trading pattern that does not reflect the time that many people want to use the centre, especially in places that have a high number of commuters living nearby.

 

The second area is improving the visual appearance. This can involve large projects like street improvements, better lighting and so on – but it also covers basic cleanliness. Unfortunately, too often, commercial waste and consumer litter or the poor maintenance of property act as a blight, undermining investment in the physical realm, and just putting people off.

The third priority is ensuring the mix of retailers and other services is providing the right offer. A bit like the first priority, a thorough understanding of who is and who is not using the town and why is key here. As individual landlords are free to let their properties to whoever

they please, managing the overall offer of a location is challenging. Much provision is complementary – a town may sustain a butcher, greengrocers, fishmonger and deli for example, but if any of these shut down, then it has consequences for the other shops as it is the linked trip behavior of the consumers that is keeping them all in business.

Having a shared vision and strategy for the location was the fourth priority we identified. This is the mechanism by which stakeholders can be encouraged to develop their business in line with an overall plan to improve the high street. A vision, strategy or plan is important for attracting investment from both the public and private sectors. Many town centres just do not seem to have a purpose now they are no longer the centres of retail they once were.

And in fifth place came the quality of the experience. Again, this relates to the collective offer of the location. A number of positive customer service interactions in retailers and service outlets can be wiped out immediately by a surly bus driver or a dark and foreboding multi-storey car park.

The actions that will improve footfall on the UK high streets have now been identified by our research, and you can access them with a more detailed explanation. They are available free of charge at Revive & Thrive supports the work of BID Foundation in our high streetshttp://www.placemanagement.org/jpmd-10-(4)/. Nevertheless, we do not underestimate the challenge ahead for individual locations wanting to change their prognosis. As collaboration is key to success then new governance and place management models are needed and this is one of the reasons the Institute is delighted to be working with BIDs from across the country through the new industry body www.thebidfoundation.com

 

New industry body renews High Street optimism

Revive & Thrive is pleased to support BID Foundation

The BID Foundation launch is welcome news for the Business Improvement District industry

Revive & Thrive is very pleased to share the following announcement about the launch of the BID Foundation.

All involved in place management will know that national representation for Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) has been in a state of flux for at least two years now.  Revive & Thrive is pleased that the BID Foundation will be addressing this.Success of BID Foundation is crucial for the Business Improvement District industry

Revive & Thrive and Place Magazine stands in a unique position in being open to BIDs and all towns or cities, irrespective of size, and all organisations representing place.  Its membership and subscriptions complements and does not conflict or compete with the aims of the BID Foundation.

All at Revive & Thrive and Place Magazine fully support the BID Foundation and offer full support in making this new organisation, built on strong foundations, a great success.

Revive & Thrive and Place Magazine offers its resources and networks to help in anyway to ensure BID Foundation success.

BID Foundation Press Release 17th January 2017

The BID Foundation has launched today (Wednesday 17th January) to meet challenges facing commercial districts up and down the country. Against a back-drop of ever-more difficult trading conditions and local government cuts, the new industry-led body will help Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) manage town and city centre retail, leisure, and other commercial areas more effectively.

The new membership organisation is an alliance of leading BIDs and the Institute of Place Management at Manchester Metropolitan University, which has been appointed as its independent operator. The BID Foundation was set up in response to wide-scale consultation and is led by an elected council of 14 BID Chief Executives from across the country.

Commenting on the launch, Andrew Cooper, Chair of The BID Foundation and CEO of Leeds BID, said: “BIDs will now be able to work together more successfully to encourage change and investment in our town and city centres. We want BIDs to make an even more significant contribution locally and nationally and we need to engage more meaningfully with local and national governments and the wider business community to do that.”

The new industry body will provide strategic direction and practical support to BIDs. It will champion the revitalisation of the high street and commercial areas by raising standards, sharing knowledge and resources, and building a trusted and representative voice.

The BID concept started 15 years ago in the UK, with the operational priorities of making areas cleaner, safer and more attractive.  This remit has matured, meaning BIDs are increasingly working with local partners to influence the economic development of the areas they manage and address big issues such as rough sleeping. Now there are nearly 300 UK BIDs and around 25 new ones are being elected each year.  Annually, BIDs contribute a total £110 million investment to UK towns and cities. 

Stefan Gurney, Vice Chair of The BID Foundation and Executive Director of Norwich BID, said: “It is great to be at the forefront of setting the vision and strategy for the future direction of the BIDs industry. The BID Foundation has been developed by the BID community and we aim to represent the industry with a clear, collaborative voice.”

The Institute of Place Management will provide specialist support and Revive & Thrive wishes the BID Foundation the best of luckaccreditation to members of The BID Foundation to ensure consistent high standards of operation, accountability, and transparency. BIDs will also draw on innovation and research insights from the Institute to inform their future business plans.

According to recent research from the Institute, the fundamental reason many commercial areas are struggling, is that decision makers and stakeholders do not adapt effectively to ongoing changes because they do not act collectively. BIDs provide this essential collaborative approach because they are business-led partnerships where retailers and other services pay an additional levy to fund a collective business plan aimed at improving a specific area.

Chair of the Institute of Place Management, Professor Cathy Parker, said: “We know how important BIDs are and The BID Foundation offers a way to increase both the local impact of each BID involved and further develop the model as a trusted form of urban management.”

The BID Foundation is open to membership from any operating BID. More details are available at www.thebidfoundation.com

 

The BID Foundation

The BID Foundation is the new industry-led body for Business Improvement Districts created in response to wide-scale consultation. The BID Foundation is an alliance of leading BIDs and the Institute of Place Management at Manchester Metropolitan University. The BID Foundation has been created to elevate standards, lobby and provide practical support to those within the Business Improvement District industry.

A council of BID senior practitioners govern The BID Foundation.  Nominations for council election were held in 2017 and 14 BID CEOs have been elected to serve by their peers.

Link: www.thebidfoundation.com

Contact: Andrew Cooper (Chair of The BID Foundation and CEO of Leeds BID)

Email: andrew.cooper@leedsbid.co.uk

Have an ice time in Sunderland this Christmas

Sunderland Business Improvement District's Christmas story can be found in Place Magazine

SUNDERLAND residents were invited to get their skates on….

Sunderland Business Improvement District is featured in December's Place Magazine
Christmas in Sunderland Frost Village official opening event Picture: DAVID WOOD

….and head to Keel Square for the opening of the Christmas Ice Rink on Thursday 30 November.

The open-air ice rink is open for six weeks from the end of November to the first week in January as part of the Christmas celebrations in the city centre, organised by Sunderland Business Improvement District (BID).

The festivities kicked off with a gala event starting at 6pm where professional solo skaters Gary Beacom and Lisa Brewin showed everyone how it’s done and officially opened the ice rink to the public.

Visitors are able to keep the cold at bay by making the most of The Peacock’s festive food stall, which is open every Friday to Sunday while the rink is in the city centre.Choose Revive & Thrive for your Business Improvement District Feasibility services

“The ice rink is a really popular attraction which is why we have brought it back once again,” said Sharon Appleby, Head of Business Operations at Sunderland BID.

“Going ice skating is a great festive treat for the whole family and with the Christmas Market already open at Park Lane, there is something to help everyone get in to the festive spirit.”

Skaters will have plenty of time to practise their moves as the rink is open from 12pm – 9pm 30 November to 22 December and from 10am – 9pm 23 December to 7 January, with sessions on Christmas Eve needing to be pre-booked.

More stories like this one from Sunderland Business Improvement District can be found in Place Magazine each month