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SECTOR FOCUS: RETAIL Second term BID to build on sucess


JONATHAN CHEETHAM, chair of Retail Birmingham and general manager at The Pallasades shopping centre, comments on the success of Retail Birmingham in securing its second term


On 11 November 2011, Retail Birmingham, the Business Improvement District (BID) for the city centre’s retailers, secured its second five-year term, BID2, following an independent ballot of our members. With 74 per cent voting in favour this was a fantastic result, allowing the organisation to continue to serve the retail community until 2017, as well as a milestone in affirming the good work that has already been delivered by Retail Birmingham in securing the future of the city’s robust retail offering.


RETAIL THERAPY BY JONATHAN CHEETHAM


‘We have delivered promotional campaigns and established major retail events such as Style Birmingham LIVE’


Since its inception in 2007, Retail Birmingham has worked tirelessly to serve the retail community through promoting, enhancing and developing the shopping, living and leisure experience in the city centre. We have delivered promotional campaigns and established major retail events such as Style Birmingham LIVE and celebration of independents that have brought


thousands of visitors into the city centre. We have also worked behind the scenes for the benefit of our members, worked to keep our streets clean and safe through the delivery of a street warden service, as well as working with Birmingham City Council to help create a walkable, world-class and connected city centre. “Over the next five years, Birmingham will see unprecedented levels of investment with the redevelopment of New Street Station and the extension of the Midlands Metro system. Retail Birmingham has already carried out significant work to give the city centre’s retailers a voice during this time and, with BID2 now secured, will continue to ensure that it is ‘business as usual’ for its members during this time.


From April 2012, when the new term begins, promoting the Retail BID


area will remain key in continuing to build the Style Birmingham consumer brand to attract visitors into the city centre, offering local marketing solutions for its members, creating top-quality national marketing campaigns for Birmingham and building on promotion of the city centre’s unique independent offering. Retail Birmingham will also continue to enhance the Retail BID area by


organising more high-quality events, developing the street warden service and keeping business crime and perceptions of crime low. Street nuisances will continue to be tackled to enhance visitors’ experience when in the city. By reducing the number of ‘human signs’ and charity collectors we hope to improve the experience on the streets and keep Birmingham in its place as one of the top shopping destinations in the UK.


Plans to limit takeaways in city


Guidelines which would limit the number of takeaways allowed in any one particular location, while also defining 73 local shopping areas within Birmingham, have been unveiled for public consultation by the City Council. For the first time, the shopping and local centres supplementary planning document (SPD), seeks to set maximum levels for non-retail units and takeaways within ‘local centres’, beyond which planning approval for new premises would not be granted. The limits would apply to 73 local shopping areas, ranging in size from larger areas such as Sutton Coldfield town centre, Erdington and Soho Road, to smaller neighborhood centres such as Walmley, Cotteridge and Robin Hood Hall Green. In larger areas at least 55 per cent of buildings in the shopping area would be required to retain a retail use, down to 50 per cent in small areas, while no more than 10 per cent of units in any area should be takeaways. If agreed by the Council, following consultation, the rules and limits would apply to all new planning applications in the 73 specified areas, however they would not be retrospectively applied to existing businesses. With few relevant reasons contained within national legislation to enable planners to refuse applications, the number of takeaways in Birmingham has grown rapidly over recent years to more than 1000. As well as seeking to limit the numbers of new takeaways in saturated areas it is hoped the SPD may


Cost-comparison Christmas ahead


As the Christmas countdown begins, well-informed shoppers are increasingly using cost comparison sites to make sure they are buying goods at the best available price, according to a retail expert at PwC. Consumers have never been


better informed about the price of the goods and this is affecting both shopper and retailer behaviour. Backed by smartphone technology, consumers are increasingly using cost comparison sites both before and during shopping trips to make sure they are getting the best price. Some retailers are responding by promising to pay the difference if the same item is found for less. Andy Lyon, partner and retail


‘The rules and limits would apply to all new planning applications in the 73 specified areas, however they would not be retrospectively applied to existing businesses’


also help identify areas where there is shortage of fast food (significantly less than 10 per cent) or other types of shop, and thereby help developers to take informed decisions about new opportunities which would benefit local people. Public consultation on the SPD runs until 19


December, after which a final report will be prepared and presented to the council, ahead of formal adoption.


To download the SPD, obtain more information and submit comments via the council’s website visit www.birmingham.gov.uk/spdlocalcentres


expert at PwC in the Midlands, said: “Shoppers are actively using every means possible to get the best price for their Christmas goods. Using cost comparison sites can put them in a good bargaining position and some retailers are encouraging them to do this on the basis that they will match the lowest price quoted. “Many retailers have overhauled their marketing approach and have opted for a mix of keen pricing and multi-channel marketing, to make it easier for shoppers to buy products where, when and how they wish. Where this is working well, retailers at all ends of the market are performing strongly, despite the prevailing economic gloom.”


DECEMBER/JANUARY 2011/12 CHAMBERLINK 47


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