Vital Support for Town Centre Retailers Takes Off in Warwickshire

A new training programme aimed at independent high street businesses is being launched following the success of a pilot project earlier this year.

In total 93 businesses were supported by the Warwickshire Towns Network (WTN) training package early in 2017, which was trialled across nine towns in the County. All participants reported that they would recommend the programme to other businesses.

The current programme is being offered to all small independent retailers and high street businesses in towns and large villages across Warwickshire. The training is free to those who sign up and, in return, businesses are being asked to dedicate time and commitment in order to improve their business and the wider town centre offer.

The two packages are ‘How to Create Your Own Footfall’ and ‘Digital Business Skills’. The training is being delivered by nationally recognised industry experts in both of these fields and will be running in Nuneaton, Rugby, Warwick and Stratford-upon-Avon with places open to all retailers countywide.

Alison Read from Decisions by Design, whose expertise is employed by businesses from the UK and Europe to China, recognises that it is not always easy for businesses to know how to begin looking to attract and retain new customers:

“I have worked with a lot of retailers over the years, who have good businesses but are so busy in the day to day running of the shop that they don’t take the time to seek out new ways of attracting custom. The training gives them the skills and time out from the shop floor that are both necessary to refresh and to be able to grow.”

Xav Anderson from Clockwork City, who specialises in helping businesses increase their profits through better online promotion and effective use of social media, says:

“In an era when so much of our shopping or browsing is done online and with 81% of the population using smart phones, it is amazing that so many small independent retailers do not have an online presence or make the best use of the digital interfaces available to them to attract customers.

Our training will help businesses to overcome the fear of using the internet or simply give them the tools to be able to make the best use of social media as an integral part of running their business. The results speak for themselves.”

Leader of the County Council and Portfolio Holder for Economic Growth, Councillor Izzi Seccombe, stressed the importance of supporting our town and village centres:

“In a climate where internet shopping and the convenience of out of town shopping play a bigger part in serving the needs of consumers, our town centres need more than ever to provide interesting, social and unique experiences for locals and visitors who want that much more from their trip, whilst also providing jobs for local people and supporting the Warwickshire economy. I would urge retailers to sign up for the workshops, to help improve their business as well as their town and trading environment.”

The training courses are part of a broader package of continued support that has been developed by the Warwickshire Towns Network; the team at Warwickshire County Council dedicated to supporting town centres across the county.

The team recently won the prestigious ‘Partnership of the Year’ award in the Association of Town and City Management (ATCM) Annual National Awards.

To find out more and to sign up for the training, details can be found at www.warwickshire.gov.uk/towncentres