Some retailers in Furness are facing some difficult times. There are empty shops in Barrow’s high street and last week Bay Trading in Barrow closed, reducing the fashion shopping choice for local residents with four people losing their jobs. However, other niche market retailers such as the Studio 82 fashion outlet in Barrow are doing well.
Building on the marketing initiative we announced last week for Ulverston, we are now hoping to offer more help for retailers in Barrow.
In recent weeks and months we have met with Barrow Traders Retail Group, the Federation of Small Businesses and individual retailers to get their views on what is needed. We have provided them with access to specialists in marketing through a Workshop/Masterclass to help retailers take up the idea of extending the shop frontage boundaries of their “high street shops” worldwide using the internet. We have also provided discretionary grant assistance to help retailers and other outlets such as Mustang Sally’s in Dalton Road, the “Fireplace” relocating to Stollers and an embroidery shop, to develop their capacity to offer something new to retail customers in Furness.
Our partners, Barrow in Furness Borough Council and Cumbria County Council will soon start a £4m scheme to enhance the physical infrastructure of the town centre, where Barrow Council have an active Town Centre Manager presence.
Soon we hope to be in a position to offer retailers the opportunity to engage specialist marketing help in the form of Geoff Ramm from Mercury Marketing. He will provide one to one retail marketing guidance for up to half a day per company to help retailers review what they do now and open up new markets. Retailers will also be able to apply for discretionary marketing grants worth up to £5,000 per firm to try out new marketing activity, enhance profitability and job prospects.
We believe this help offering ‘money to access markets’ will enable retailers to really get to grips with the current economic challenges they face, whilst expanding their client bases, increasing footfall, spend and hopefully profitability. We hope to be able to launch this scheme to provide more ‘real help now’ for local businesses by mid-summer so that Barrow can have a brighter future as a vibrant shopping centre.
Retailers wanting to know more about the potential scheme or offer ideas on how it should be structured should contact my colleague, Val Robinson on 01229 820611; email: firstname.lastname@example.org . Val can also brief businesses about the range of discretionary grants and loans available for job creation and investment.