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Bringing retailers together leads to success in Stockton

Team work between local high street partnership and Business in the Community’s Healthy High Street champions has reaped dividends for local retailers in Stockton.

Summary

The Healthy High Streets campaign is bringing us together with some major businesses on our high street. This is giving us a real opportunity to drive the ‘hearts and minds’ change with willing and involved partners, as well as embedding a sustainable growth model for the benefit of all. Having the skills and experience brought by the national businesses as partners is already proving to be invaluable.

- Richard Poundford,
Head of Regeneration at Stockton Council
The high street champions from Boots, M&S and Santander have provided expertise to help Stockton’s local high street partnership, ‘Rediscover Stockton’, bring together the retail community to grow trade, reduce vacancy rates and increase footfall.

What needed to be done?

Stockton Council is undertaking an extensive programme of regeneration in the high street, which started in 2012 and is due to be completed in early 2015. When complete, Stockton will boast more open spaces, new car parks and a growing retail sector.

However, during the development stage there has been severe disruption to the high street which has impacted footfall. Actions needed to be taken to help protect the number of people visiting the high street and develop plans to communicate positive messages around the regeneration project.

Plan of action

In April 2014, Jemma Radestock joined the M&S branch in Stockton and was later appointed as lead high street champion for BITC’s Healthy High Street campaign, supported by Zoe France from Boots and Tony Grainger from Santander.

Jemma, together with Zoe and Tony, identified that they needed to bring the business community in Stockton together so they would better engage with each other. The theory was that all the businesses shared similar goals and would all benefit if footfall was maintained while regeneration works were taking place.

The High Street champions also started to regularly liaise with Rediscover Stockton, as well as Stockton Council, to ensure they were all working together for the benefit of the high street.

Furthermore, the champions have also been closely involved with developing the marketing plan to help with the regeneration of Stockton town centre, as well as communicating upcoming events, such as free parking at local authority car parks after 3pm.

Successes

Vacant retail unit in Stockton spruced up with vinylSince Jemma, Zoe and Tony took on their role as high street champions, there have been some successful results including:

  • Working collaboratively with the managers of Stockton’s two shopping centres, resulted in four empty retail units being filled and new attractive vinyls installed,

  • Meetings with independent retailers to help establish them in the local area by promoting their services and giving them more visibility across the high street,

  • Regular team meetings, consisting of between 80 and 100 delegates, to share plans about upcoming activities in the town, such as plans for Christmas and the New Year,

  • Retailers have started to become positive ambassadors for Stockton, helping attract new business,

  • Boots and M&S have provided more than 20 job placements since April.

Jemma Radestock said: “Championing Stockton on behalf of the Healthy High Street Campaign is a privilege, never a task, as I firmly believe the community should always remain at the heart of how we do business.”

Next steps

The Healthy High Street team in Stockton realise their work is not yet done and going forward, they will continue to input into the marketing plan to communicate activity around the regeneration of the high street, boost the number of visitors and create a greater sense of pride amongst local people.

The team will also continue to keep up the dialogue between businesses in Stockton and demonstrate that a joined-up approach in increasing footfall will benefit them all.