Sector Focus

Retail Store managers appointed to BID

The managers of Selfridges and John Lewis in Birmingham have been appointed as chair and deputy chair of Retail BID (business improvement district) Birmingham to help drive city centre improvement projects. Sam Watts, general manager of Selfridges, takes the role of chair while Lisa Williams, head of branch at John Lewis & Partners, becomes deputy chair. Ms Watts replaces Richard

Norgrove of Hortons’ Estate and Ms Williams replaces David Pardoe of the Mailbox who stood down from their roles but will remain on the BID board. The Retail BID Board is made up

of some of the most senior roles in Birmingham retail, property, culture and civic affairs. Stephanie Lacey, the new manager of Bullring and Grand Central, has joined the board alongside Cllr John Cotton, Birmingham City Council cabinet member for social inclusion, community safety and equalities. The Retail BID represents

hundreds of city centre retailers and is pursuing a programme which includes street cleaning, floral enhancements, various other improvements and city centre promotion. The BID area includes Bullring

and Grand Central, Great Western Arcade, Piccadilly Arcade and busy

Working closely: Lisa Williams (left) and Sam Watts

‘Birmingham is full of excitement and promise and we will work strategically as a board to set out our plans for the coming years’

thoroughfares such as New Street, High Street, Bennetts Hill and Temple Street. The BID also employs business

support officers and patrol officers who work alongside West Midlands Police and the city council’s ‘Street Intervention Team’ to tackle anti- social behaviour and business crime. The BID recently launched the

‘City Safe’ radio network, which gives participating businesses the

latest digital radio technology to report issues immediately and access to intelligence-led crime data. Ms Watts said: “I’m delighted to

be appointed as the chair of the Retail BID. I’ve been in retail for 20 years and I’m keen to share my knowledge and experience with the BID members to continue to make our city great. “I’m especially looking forward to working with Lisa, our brands

may be competitors but we have a fantastic relationship. “This is built on ensuring our city

is front and centre of visitors’ minds and they choose Birmingham to shop, eat and experience all that our great city has on offer. “Birmingham is full of excitement

and promise and we will work strategically as a board to set out our plans for the coming years. “We will host the Commonwealth

Games in 2022 and we all have a lot of work to do to make us ‘visit ready’. Lisa, the board and I, are ready and up for the challenge.” Ms Williams said: “As a proud Brummie it was great to come back to the city to open and lead the new John Lewis shop in 2015. “I have loved being back in the

heart of my favourite city in the world but have been struck with how many different groups and organisations work tirelessly to make Birmingham great. “Whether formed by geography

or function, public or private sector, we have got so many reasons to work together more closely. “In taking up the deputy chair

position on the Retail BID Board, I will be working to support Sam in bringing together the knowledge, expertise, time and resource of these teams to unite the city in one direction and help restore our pride in Birmingham.”

Banishing the clouds looming over retailing

The last four months have been some of the toughest I can remember in my various roles during my 30 plus year involvement in retail. Whilst we have been blessed

with often very un-winter like weather and some glimpses of spring there has throughout this time felt that a very dark cloud has hung over this period – firstly with Brexit and then running alongside this the continuing narrative of the fall of Debenhams. Debenhams has been enduring a

slow painful slip into administration since before Christmas and this whole sorry saga seems, in my view, to encapsulate everything that has gone wrong in retail in recent years – too much debt, too little innovation and investment, too much space and a too little (too late) response to the changing consumer market. And, as has been seen many

times before in recent years, what appear to be greedy private equity funds or individuals stripping the


shop but have picked themselves up, invested in new and expensive security measures and who are now reaping the rewards from customers who appreciate the added feeling of security that the changes have made. Then there is 365 Bargains.

Retail Therapy

By Peter Hardingham General Manager, The Octagon Centre, Burton

assets bare before dumping the remaining carcass into a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) and leaving thousands out of work and those responsible thinking that this is alright. This is what makes the headlines in the newspapers but, alongside this, thousands of small independent shop owners, of which the Octagon has several – making up more than 25 per cent

of the total tenants – toil away providing outstanding customer service. At the Octagon we have two independent retailers, with totally different customer profiles, that are most certainly doing the right thing, each in their own way. Firstly, there is Henry Rose

Jewellers, who just before Christmas last year suffered a terrifying day-time raid on their

Owned by Simon Smith and originally based in Swadlincote, this new 3,500 square foot store opened in late March and is his third 365 Bargains store and his first in a shopping centre. This opening is a huge

commitment by a relatively small retailer at a time of uncertainty, but once again, this investment is proving to be in the right place at the right time. Of course, what really needs to

happen is not just some nice weather but a sunnier outlook and I, like many others in business, would urge our politicians to sort out Brexit so we can all enjoy a brighter future without continually worrying about where the next storm is coming from.

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