Monday, April 14, 2014

News: Maker's Emporium set for official opening

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Retail guru Mary Portas and Brandon Lewis MP, the Government's minister for high streets, town centres and markets, are set to visit Rotherham this week to take a look at the ongoing transformation of the High Street.

Portas last visited Rotherham town centre in 2011 as part of her Government-commissioned review into the nation's High Street. Suitably impressed by the support for new, independent retailers; high levels of customer service; and the vitality of the markets, Rotherham became a "Portas Pilot" and secured funding to help adapt its high streets to changing consumer behaviour.

£100,000 from the Government has been matched with £130,000 from British Land, the owners of the nearby retail park at Parkgate to test the "Town Team" approach and pilot ideas and recommendations set out in the Mary Portas Review. This was followed up with £268,000 awarded as part of the government's High Street Renewal Award.

The additional funding boosted the already successful business vitality grants scheme that provides financial support to encourage new independent niche retail businesses to open up in the town centre. Over 85 new businesses have opened in the town centre since 2010.

The £100,000 business development grant fund has already supported the renovation of CafĂ© Rendezvous, the expansion of the Whistle Stop Sweet Shop to include a new temperance bar, and the renovation of Stems florists.

Around £12,000 has gone into mystery shopper reviews, improvement grants and World Host customer service training involving over 170 businesses, highlighting examples of "platinum service" and providing training opportunities to improve customer service standards.

£2,500 has been used on training almost 60 traders in visual merchandising, gift wrapping, media and marketing to ensure that Rotherham retailers offer an experience which attracts shoppers and helps retailers collectively spread the Shop Local message.

£15,000 has been used for Rotherham's successful pop up shop scheme, the first of which has given new business Vintage Dolls the chance to test its business ideas on flexible terms, with a queue of retailers now awaiting the next pop up opportunities.

£25,000 has also been spent on the town's high profile Shop Local campaign, finding innovative ways to promote the quality, differentiated shopping offer, alongside advertising discounts and other incentives in over 100 shops and restaurants participating in the Shop Local loyalty card scheme.

This week, Mary Portas and Brandon Lewis will officially open the Makers' Emporium on High Street, the latest initiative to help differentiate the retail offer in Rotherham town centre.

Transforming the former Snafu rock bar and opening to the public last week, the Makers' Emporium offers low-cost shared and professionally-managed retail space to a mixture of makers, crafters, artists and designers. The project focuses on providing locally-designed and hand-crafted items with an array of pieces available to suit all tastes and budgets.

Initial products for sale include handmade bags and clothing, quality skincare products made from local honey, home-ware, recycled metal art, gifts, and hand-crafted fine silver jewellery.

Funded by the High Street Renewal Award and delivered in partnership between the Council, The Source and Rotherham Youth Enterprise, The Makers' Emporium aims to support new start-businesses looking to trade for the first time, raise awareness of their products and see what it takes to run their own business.

Maker's Emporium website
Rotherham Town Centre website

Images: RMBC

2 comments:

Scott Engering April 14, 2014 at 5:23 PM  

Do you have any details of the time and date of the Official Opening Ceremony?

Tom,  April 15, 2014 at 7:57 AM  

It's being organised by the town centre team at the council Scott. You can get in touch with them via http://www.rotherhamtowncentre.co.uk

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