Friday, July 12, 2013

News: Town centre team recognised for improving the business mix


The Retail Investment Team at Rotherham Council has won the "Improving the Business Mix" award from the Association of Town Centre Management (ACTM), the national organisation for individuals and organisations concerned with the maintenance, commercial and social development of the UK's town and city centres.

Rotherham was one of six winners announced at the annual ATCM conference, which took place in Lincoln earlier this month.

The award recognises the work being undertaken to redefine the shopping offer in the town centre through projects such as Pop-up Shops, Business Vitality Grants and the Business Development Grants.

Rotherham was one of 27 areas to be named as a "Portas Pilot" securing £100,000 of government funding to support the high street. £268,000 was recently awarded to Rotherham as part of the government's High Street Renewal Award.

Bernadette Rushton, retail investment manager at Rotherham Council (pictured above, far right) said: "It's fantastic to see Rotherham getting national recognition for projects which have really helped the town centre spring to life.

"Town centres across the country continue to face challenges on a daily basis and this award specifically acknowledges the ways in which the independent retail offer in Rotherham has grown, attracting new customers to the town and encouraging old ones back.

"We've concentrated on expanding the town's range of opportunities for new retailers and established traders and have built a reputation for helping getting businesses to reach their full potential.

"This renewed shopping offer has contributed to a footfall rate which has increased year on year, reduced vacancy rates and improved shopper satisfaction levels. This stood us in good stead to win the Improving the Business Mix award against stiff competition."

Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Development, Councillor Gerald Smith (pictured above, second left), added: "The award specifically relates to the successful Pop-up Shop project, which welcomed its first successful applicant, Vintage Dolls, earlier in the year, the Business Vitality Grant scheme, which has already supported 15 retailers in the town and we have so far helped two existing businesses to develop in the town, as well as currently working with a further seven more retailers to help make their businesses even better.

"We want to build on the success to date and continue to work with new and existing businesses as we move forward."

The business vitality scheme is aimed at encouraging new independent retailers to open up outlets in Rotherham town centre and has been running since 2008. The scheme has provided discretionary financial assistance in the form of rental contributions, business planning, business advice, and contributions to shop front grants, fit out costs and street furniture.

Owner of town centre success-story, Bittersweet Boutique, Laura Bullock (pictured above, second right), said: "Rotherham has proved that when it comes to encouraging small businesses to be the best that they can be, they are right behind business owners in helping to realise their incredible potential.

"Through hard work and innovation, Rotherham town centre has become the kind of place that welcomes both business and shoppers who are looking for something different.

"The various incentives that are available have given local residents like me the chance to fulfil our own ambitions and set up our own business.

"I've been overwhelmed by the support of my customers and have been delighted to be able to expand earlier this year, its thanks to the support from the Retail Investment Team that this has been a possibility for me."

Rotherham Town Centre website

Images: RMBC


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