Home Page Haverhill News

Haverhill Poll
Haverhill Poll


Mailing List

Matthew Hancock
Your Local MP

Mixed hopes that town centre can meet shoppers' aspirations

Wednesday, 30th March 2011.

Shoppers in Haverhill want a better range of non-food shops, but large national chains are unlikely to come to the town - that is the gloomy side of the results of a recent survey.

The more cheerful side is that the 'guru' of Tesco's Clubcard loyalty programme is prepared to give his time and that of a business student to help put together a plan for improving what can be improved.

This includes filling the gaps in the types of goods available, helping current retailers to adapt their products and services, and promoting what the town has to offer.

The ultimate aim is to make the town 'distinctive' from Bury St Edmunds or Cambridge, its main neighbouring competitors.

The survey was commissioned by a group of town centre businesses put together as part of a programme of marketing master classes, under the guidance Professor Andrew Fearne of Kent Business School, involved via Tesco as part of their efforts to support local businesses.

It was carried out last year and received over 1,000 responses, considered by experts to be a large sample, although not necessarily representative of Haverhill shoppers.

Non food shops were rated ‘poor’ by 45 per cent of respondents. The single biggest change that all shoppers, but particularly those who currently choose to shop elsewhere, said they would like to see an increase in the range and quality of non food shops.

A small number of respondents stated a preference for a particular retailer (for example, Marks and Spencer, Primark, BHS, River Island) and clothing was the most frequently cited sector.

Those who shop regularly in Haverhill were more positive about the town than those who mostly shop in Bury or Cambridge.

The analysis recommends that Haverhill needs to distinguish itself from the two major towns, Cambridge and Bury St Edmunds, with which it competes for shoppers.

A report to Haverhill Area Working Party says the survey results suggest that to do this, Haverhill needs to change the retail offer and find a value proposition that is distinctly different from those offered by its neighbours.

A formal review of the current retail offer needs to be undertaken with a view to making provision for new retail units.

Experts say these are unlikely to include national chains, given the size/location of the town and current economic climate but should include those sectors highlighted in the survey as currently underrepresented, for example, fashion, sports shops, household goods and children's games.

The report suggests new ideas could use the market as a test-bed, with new stallhol;ders being sought out to fill the gaps in local shops and 'shouting about it through effective
PR in neighbouring towns'.

It also suggests shoppers should be involved in regular focus groups and listening forums.

KBS has also offered the time of a supervised student on placement in Haverhill for two or three months in the summer, to conduct a
shopper survey in High Street.

In addition to obtaining a robust survey and recommendations tailored for Haverhill at a greatly reduced cost in this way, the benefit of the partnership continuing to work with Prof Fearne, would be his willingness to channel his extensive knowledge and experience with major retailers, to help Haverhill town centre businesses to develop skills tailored to their specific need.

The aim is to increase the number of businesses involved in the project. Widening participation from other businesses could lead to some of them joining with the pilot businesses to form a Haverhill Town Centre Business Group/Haverhill Town Traders Association (Haverhill-TTA) or something similar, the report says.

Other towns across the country are following the project through their town centre managers, with a view to learning from the results and using thm themselves.

Haverhill Online News

Comment on this story

[board listing] [login] [register]

No comments have been posted for this news entry.


You must be logged in to post messages. (login now)

© Haverhill-UK | Accessibility | Disclaimer