Castle Quarter boss calls for empty shop units to be filled with ‘pop-up galleries and street food’

PUBLISHED: 13:10 31 December 2019 | UPDATED: 13:10 31 December 2019

Robert Bradley, Castle Quarter centre manager. Pic: Archant

Robert Bradley, Castle Quarter centre manager. Pic: Archant

Norwich retail chief Robert Bradley is urging landlords to offer shorter leases and flexible rents to ‘reverse the decline of retail’ as he and other bosses reveal their 2020 aims.

Adam Goymour, company director, Roarr! Dinosaur Adventure. Pic: ArchantAdam Goymour, company director, Roarr! Dinosaur Adventure. Pic: Archant

What does 2020 hold for businesses? Caroline Culot asked some of the bosses of Norfolk firms what their aims are for the year ahead.

Robert Bradley, centre manager, Castle Quarter, Norwich:

"The retail sector needs to think far more out of the box than it does at the moment and better adapt to the rapidly and drastically changing market - and landlords and local authorities too. At Castle Quarter, we have reinvented ourselves as a place to 'shop, dine, watch and play'. We are still a shopping mall, but we are successfully bucking the trend and driving footfall up to the benefit of all tenants by creating a destination with an expanding variety of leisure operators. We are also driving footfall through community initiatives such as Made in Norwich, Kastle Kids and the Sharing Office. Retailers who sell from a warehouse do not pay business rates whereas those who sell from a shop, do. That is highly unfair and, in 2020, I hope this is something the government will pick up on. I also hope that 2020 will see landlords considering shorter leases and more flexible rents. We do this at Castle Quarter and one of the aims of the Made in Norwich initiative is to give small businesses the chance to test the market, grow and, potentially take a lease when they can.

"Finally, why leave empty units vacant? Let's see them opened up to artists' workshops, pop up galleries, street food, micro-businesses, at very low cost and flexible terms to enable them to get established and grow. At the same time, they will increase local footfall for the benefit of the existing retailers and the local economy - and landlords and local authorities too. These are all opportunities the retail sector needs to come to terms with as I hope 2020 may start to see a reversal in the recent decline of retail in Britain."

Louise Birritteri, CEO and founder of Pikl. Pic: ArchantLouise Birritteri, CEO and founder of Pikl. Pic: Archant

Nick Taylor, chairman of the NDAEA, Norwich & District Association of Estate Agents:

"Three and a half years of dither and delay have put the brakes on the economy and on the number of people prepared to make a decision about buying or selling property. Property price inflation has slowed in recent years and in London, prices are falling. However, demand for housing caused by a 7% year on year increase in population means that prices will keep going up even if the rate of growth is more modest than over the past decade. Until government bites the bullet and reverses its policies of over population, lack of housing will continue to be a thorny issue, especially for younger people.

"Estate agents up and down the country will have to get to grips with new government legislation called ROPA or Regulation Of Property Agents. When the legislation gets passed, every estate agent will have to make sure all their consumer facing employees are qualified. This will be a huge undertaking for the industry but it will also be a very good thing in the long run."

Lisa Angel, founder and CEO of Lisa Angel. Pic: ArchantLisa Angel, founder and CEO of Lisa Angel. Pic: Archant

Lisa Angel, founder and CEO of Lisa Angel jewellery and accessories:

"We certainly have ambitions to open a new store in the future. Despite online sales making up the majority of our total revenue, we still believe in the power of the high street and are determined to support it. We are looking for at least 10% growth in both online and retail sales in 2020. We are determined that we increase the proportion that is sold through our own website and we will be embarking on some development work to improve the overall customer experience.

"One of the things we tried this year that we will definitely look at doing more of next year is working alongside bloggers. This year we teamed up with Norwich blogger and Youtuber Carly Rowena, who has 164,000 followers on Instagram; that experience has taught us to embrace new promotional and distribution methods. And, it would be great if we could get a few more celebrities to wear our jewellery. I would love the Duchess of Cambridge to wear something of mine. Ultimately, we have had an unbelievable last few years and we just want to continue 'gifting happiness' to all our customers around the world."

Nick Taylor, chairman of the NDAEA, Norwich & District Association of Estate Agents. Pic: ArchantNick Taylor, chairman of the NDAEA, Norwich & District Association of Estate Agents. Pic: Archant

Adam Goymour, company director at Roarr! Dinosaur Adventure, Lenwade, said:

"We are really pushing our marketing as we celebrate our 30th birthday in 2020. We are one of Norfolk and Suffolk's most popular paid for visitor attraction and the best dinosaur themed adventure park in the UK and it is going to be a big year for dinosaurs across Norfolk. We are also hoping to unveil a new fantastic attraction to the park in the spring/summer. So watch this space."

Louise Birritteri, founder and CEO of Pikl Insurance, said:

"Growth is very much our keyword for 2020. It's about growing consumer and broker awareness of the problem we are solving. We'll be doing our bit by educating the industry of the gap that exists in insurance cover for the majority of people who are earning money renting out their properties on short term lets. We are looking forward to having a strong trading year by ramping up the sales of our products through partnerships, insurance brokers and the public. 2020 will be the first year where we can spend some time advertising those products in earnest. We also have plans to launch more products. And, to support these ambitious plans we will continue to grow our workforce."

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