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Gurus – Big Thinkers on the High Street

posted 2 Jan 2012, 08:22 by George Grace   [ updated 2 Jan 2012, 08:31 ]

Besides ourselves (naturally!) a few sources of information and ideas on the high street:

Mary Portas

In May this year, the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister asked Mary Portas to undertake an independent review on the Future of the High Street – to help ‘bring back the bustle’ to our town centres. ‘With town centre vacany rates doubling over the last two years, the need to take action to save our high streets has never been starker. I am calling on business, local authorities and shoppers to contribute their ideas on how we can halt this decline in its tracks and create town centres that we can all be proud of. In the first 3 months of the review over 1500 suggestions were received and the report was published in December with 28 recommendations for High Streets and can be found at Department for BIS, but include:

  • Get town centres running like businesses: by strengthening the management of high streets through new ‘Town Teams’, developing the Business Improvement District model and encouraging new markets;
  • Get the basics right to allow businesses to flourish: by looking at how the business rate system could better support small businesses and independent retailers, encouraging affordable town centre car parking and looking at further opportunities to remove red tape on the high street;
  • Level the playing field: by ensuring a strong town centre first approach in planning and encouraging large retailers to show their support for high streets;
  • Define landlords’ roles and responsibilities: by looking at disincentives for landlords leaving properties vacant and empowering local authorities to step in when landlords are negligent; and
  • Give communities a greater say: by greater inclusion of the high street in neighbourhood planning and encouraging innovative community uses of empty high street spaces. 

Urban Pollinators

For one of the most thoughtful responses to the Portas review, check out Urban Pollinators - Towards the 21st Century Agora. Lots of very useful insights but in particular the need to be unique and differentiated from modern out of town centres, about improving the experience (and learning from Copenhagen in particular), multifuncionality (ie its not just about shops, its about sport, play, democracy, leisure, trade etc). 


Association of Town Centre Management

ATCM is Europe's largest membership organisation dedicated to helping town and city centres realise their natural roles both as prosperous locations for business and investment, and as focal points for vibrant, inclusive communities. Our members are primarily public private partnerships from across the UK as well as both public and private sector stakeholders.


The National Skills Academy for Retail 

The National Skills Academy for Retail aims to provide access to consistent, high quality training for retail businesses, their employees and future workforce. They recognise that retail is the largest private sector employer in the UK with 291,000 businesses, three million employees and an annual turnover of £265 billion. The National Skills Academy for Retail aims to play a key role in driving forward skills and qualifications for current and future employees within this vast sector.

Consisting of a network of retail skills shops in shopping centres and high streets across the country - as well as a number of virtual skills shops - the National Skills Academy for Retail offers a host of services. These include business support for retailers of all sizes and in any location, a consistent national approach for retail training and the provision of authoritative labour market intelligence. Retailers benefitting from the National Skills Academy for Retail, range from well-known high-street multiples to small independent chains and single store owners. More at www.nsaforretail.com.

The Retail Think Tank

The Retail Think Tank was conceived and created to provide an’ authoritative, credible and trusted window on what is really happening in retail. Through its quarterly meetings it develops and publishes thought leadership on the key areas influencing the future of retailing, which are designed to address both the health of the sector and the challenges it faces. The RTT aims to be a first port of call for journalists and commentators interested in retail, retail analysts, students of retail and for those involved in investment in retail’. More at www.retailthinktank.co.uk/white-papers


Other key related trade associations and professions: 

  • Association of Convenience Stores
  • British Council of Shopping Centres
  • British Property Federation
  • British Retail Consortium
  • Business in the Community
  • Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors


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