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Retail guru Bill Grimsey unveils new taskforce

Former Wickes and Iceland boss Bill Grimsey is leading a new independent review of Britain’s high streets and town centres, following a string of collapses and closures.

Grimsey is revisiting the topic after his first review in 2013, which was closely followed in Westminster, to factor in changes including Brexit and the 2017 business rates revaluation.

The new review will seek to identify successful retail regeneration projects implemented as a result of the first review and other reviews at the time.

It will also examine the costs, financing and operating models of towns, and look at what can be done to help prepare town centres and high streets for the future.

The report will be published on 4 July. Grimsey will collaborate with six other experts including Eva Pascoe, who was the first director for ecommerce at Topshop, and retail property specialist Matthew Hopkinson.

The authors will contact key stakeholders of towns and cities to gather evidence and opinion, as well as understand what town and community plans exist.

Grimsey said: “It is time to get this subject back on everyone’s agenda, otherwise we will continue to sleep-walk into the remainder of the 21st Century, leaving a legacy of ill thought-out town centres and high streets to the next generation.

“Evidence-based research is critical to how we manage our places and communities at both a local and national level. Change is rapid and change is constant.”

Interested parties can join a LinkedIn group called Grimsey Review 2 to submit feedback and evidence, as well as updates.

Readers' comments (3)

  • Very easy to solve-landlords need to be more flexible with easy in and out leases and be realistic about what they are charging. Local councils need to make parking free.
    Would totally boost the High Streets

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  • Parking fees are remarkable. They stop impulsive shopping visits in their tracks. Yes (but reasonable) over weekends when there’s over supply of visitors. Certainly not during weekdays.

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  • darren hoggett

    There is ultimately a limited - at best - amount of what you can do. Parking fees, accessibility etc, but they do not add up to much as they will only benefit consumers that already choose to shop in City Centres anyway. So what should we do?

    It is all about acceptance, rather than trying to turn back the tide and recreate the past. The High Street needs to downsize and adapt and that means less clothing stores - in some cases, all lot less.

    You can't force Generation Z to got out and shop when they can shop uin the comfort of their own bed. There are always exceptions, but that is the future and until the denial stops from the decision makers, the High Street will continue to suffer.

    I'm sure the report will say many good, if ultimately obvious things. However the current situation is that the trade has been neither proactive or even reactive in what is staring itself in the face.

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