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Significant benefit for few retailers who accepted training

Tuesday, 17th July 2012.

Only five Haverhill town centre businesses took advantage of free advice sessions from experts as part of Destination Haverhill, a project from Kent Business School aimed at revitalizing the towns retail offer.

Haverhill Area Working Party heard on Thursday the five Strowgers jewellers, The Gallery, C and B beautiful, Chapmans and Amanda Julia Couture - had all benefited greatly, with Strowgers already recording a 20 per cent increase in footfall.

Project leader Debbie Kemp said those who did not take part were split half and half between those who were satisfied with what they did and did not want outside interference, and those who signed up but then backed out because they were daunted by the prospect.

She said she hoped during the next phase of the project those who had benefited would persuade some of the others to change their attitude.

Debbie explained the results from a series of focus groups they had held about the town centre in which 76 per cent of people said its biggest failing was a lack of quality clothing shops.

They also wanted to see an improved visual appearance and a community meeting place or more restaurants where people could meet and chat.

She was slightly surprised at the limited response to the training the project offered to retailers, and that many were 'not open to a different way of working'.

"I thought it was a fantastic package put together for them for free on their doorstep," she said.

But at a national meeting of town centre managers the Haverhill project was described as 'fantastic', and managers told her they were surprised she got as many as she did.

"Clearly, many town centres are similar," she said.

Haverhill Online News

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