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Organisers of next month’s Future High Street Summit in Nottingham are determined to reverse the ongoing decline of the high street, as the conference prepares to inspire delegates with proven solutions and best practices for town centre success.

Despite the latest BRC-Springboard figures, which reported a continuing drop in footfall on high streets and in shopping centres as well as a rise in vacancy rates, the event’s organisers are convinced that high street stakeholders can convert consumer trends by working together.

“The Future High Street Summit has a clear message: the high street is not dying or dead, but it is evolving,” explains Clare Rayner, founder of the event. “It’s important that the people behind our town and city centres evolve with the times as well. We want to open our attendees’ eyes to the options available to them for their own future high streets.

“Today’s consumers are looking for something a little different when they visit town centres. Our jam-packed, two-day event on 25th and 26th March is going to showcase the proven solutions that bring people back to the high street, and delegates are going to see how working with other organisations is the perfect way to implement those solutions.”

Day Two of the Summit intends to conclude the event on a high, allowing delegates to leave feeling fired up and motivated to make a change in their communities, whilst also showing them who can help them in the process.

Hosted by Mark Holder, Team Leader at DCLG, the second session of the day will explore how town centres can work in partnership with the tiers of local government, and examples of best practice in action. Speakers include Jean Ball MIPM, Town Team Special Advisor at ATCM, and Rachel Baconnet, Regeneration Project Manager, Town Centres, at Warwickshire County Council.

Whilst Rachel will talk about the importance of county authorities as key drivers for economic growth, Jean will explore the concept that collaboration and partnership have become mandatory.

Jean comments, “The towns and cities that are enjoying positive momentum are those where people, passion and power are working in partnership. In the 21st century, the truth is that no single entity can deliver thriving high streets – not local government, business improvement districts, town teams, chambers or town centre partnerships – but together we can make places that are alive, vibrant, inclusive and resilient.

“Town centres are complex places and it takes collaborative effort by a wide and varied range of stakeholders, each doing their bit and working to shared objectives, to craft real change with lasting impact. Delegates can hear about the highs and low from the Portas Town Team Programme over the past two years and how they can contribute to helping making towns great.”

Proven solutions for high streets

Throughout the summit, town centre stakeholders will learn what can be achieved by working with other organisations, and the final session is no exception. ‘Grass-roots regeneration’ is one of the most practical topics of the entire event, offering solutions which are easily, quickly and cheaply implementable for the UK’s high streets.

Rachel Martin and Maria McEwen, community organisers responsible for establishing and running Pop Up Penzance, will share how the venture has progressed since its launch in July 2013. Having brought seven empty shops back into use, enabled businesses to test new concepts and facilitated other community events and initiatives, Rachel and Maria will share their recipe for grass-roots revitalisation.

Rachel comments, “While we are waiting for the longer term solutions such as rate reviews, change of use permissions and the rethinking of town centres, we in Penzance are turning the dismal empty shops into an opportunity for theatre, art events, ping pong, neighbourhood planning, and a testing ground for new businesses and community projects, and all on a very passionate shoestring.”

A study by EE and the Centre for Economic and Business Research in July 2014 found that the pop-up retail industry was growing at a rate of 8.4%. Compared to the 3.4% growth of the wider retail sector, it’s clear that pop-up stores are growing in popularity with both retailers and shoppers – and this extends to the hospitality industry as well.

Guy Lincoln, Senior Academic at the School of Events, Tourism, Hospitality and Languages at Leeds Beckett University, and co-founder of street food provider, Beasty Boys, will be speaking at the event alongside Andrew Critchett, owner of food business Fish& and curator of independent food business network, Northern StrEats. Their insightful talk will illustrate how promoting street food can support micro-businesses, boost footfall and increase dwell time.

Guy comments, “Street food is the fastest growing and most exciting sector of the UK’s food and drink industry. Thousands of new customers experience it each week and creative and entrepreneurial traders are continually entering the market. It has achieved this level of success and growth despite – or perhaps because of – its defiantly uncorporate status; remaining small scale, mobile, outdoor and highly creative.

“The traders and their often high-concept vehicles offer a diversity of regional tastes, ethnic backgrounds, popsmarts, foodie curiosity and social media savvy, unmatched in any other sector. It is this unique combination of individuals and perspectives that challenges assumptions about urban life and business and food consumption to offer opportunities to invigorate city streets in a unique and positive way.”

Joe Barratt, who founded The Teenage Market in partnership with his brother Tom, will also be sharing his experiences in the proven impact of the initiative. Only just launched on a national scale, The Teenage Market has already offered a free platform for young people to showcase their creative talents in several towns, including Stockport, Salisbury, Kettering, Middleton and Croydon, among others.

Joe explains, “The recent rise of digital marketplaces has presented a real threat to traditional markets, as the next generation of young people become more used to engaging online than they do with the real world. What we’re doing with The Teenage Market is fairly revolutionary as we’re using the power of digital technology to connect young people to their local market and town centre.”

Ian Ferguson MBA, Director of Partnerships for Better Business Ltd will also speak during the session.

The Future High Street will be held at Nottingham Conference Centre within Nottingham Trent University on 25th and 26th March. For more information on the event and to see an outline agenda with the other featured high street factors, delegates can visit the Future High Street Summit website.

Tickets for the conference are on sale now and attendees can sign up at www.futurehighstreet.co.uk/register.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

About Future High Street:
Since its launch in 2014, the Future High Street Summit has become the platform that enables the innovators and the success stories to share their capabilities and achievements with an audience of like-minded individuals who believe in a positive future for their local high streets, towns and village centres. Those individuals leave the summit fired up with inspiration and well equipped to bring new ideas and innovation back to their own communities, adapt them where relevant, and take them forward for the benefit of their area.

Clare Rayner and her team have extensive conference and event management expertise as they produce the highly regarded annual event 'The Retail Conference' as well as the three annual campaign events for the Support for Independent Retail campaign - namely 'Celebrate an Independent Christmas', 'Enjoy an Independent Easter' and 'Independent Retailer Month UK'.

The Future High Street Summit 2015 benefits from the learnings and experiences of the 2014 event as well as over 10 years of event management skills and expertise. It really is THE not-to-be-missed event for retailers and regeneration professionals in 2015.


For more information, images and interview opportunities, please contact: Caroline Cook at Wordsmith Copywriting, T: 01529 298729 E: caroline.cook@wordsmithcopywriting.co.uk.

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Future High Street in the following categories: Retail & Fashion, Public Sector, Third Sector & Legal, Construction & Property, for more information visit http://pressreleasewire.responsesource.com/about.