Call for businesses to unite in the face of High Street challenges - The Stratford Observer
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9th Aug, 2022

Call for businesses to unite in the face of High Street challenges

IT is more important than ever for businesses in Stratford to work together to weather tough trading times on the High Street.

That is the message from the head of Stratford’s Business Improvement District (BID) as the organisation sets out its stall to help the town’s businesses prosper over the next five years.

Stratforward has outlined a series of priorities and aims as part of its BID3 Business Plan, launched today (Thursday), ahead of a vote on its future by members in September.

The BID is coming to the end of its second five-year term and the 430 businesses who make up the membership are set to vote for a third term. A ‘yes’ vote will see it continue for a further five years. A ‘no’ vote will see it disbanded.

And Stratforward director Joe Baconnet is urging businesses to use strength of numbers to keep the town centre thriving in the face of an array of challenges.

Mr Baconnet said: “If ever there was a time to work together, it’s now.

“Over this BID term we’ve seen the retail, services and professional sector change beyond recognition. It’s been tough for businesses everywhere and Stratford is no exception. The challenges our members are facing are the same as elsewhere with competition from the internet, increased operating costs and changes in consumer spending but with the tourism, visitor and Brexit factors thrown in as well.

“We have probably seen more changes in the past five years than the last 25, and there is no going back. Like individual businesses we as a town and Stratforward as an organisation have to adapt to work under these new conditions and the many more changes that are undoubtedly coming. This journey has not finished. There are going to be many more challenges ahead.”

Listening and working more closely together were two key themes that came out of a Stratforward consultation exercise carried out with members over the past six months. It has formed the backbone of the BID3 Business Plan.

“Throughout this process, we’ve said we’re aware of the need to work closely with our members and stakeholders to build a united front so we can tackle the challenges facing our town head-on,” added Mr Baconnet. “

“We believe this Business Plan provides a blueprint for that kind of cooperation and something we can build on over the next few years to ensure businesses feel they’re getting a real benefit from having a BID in their town.”

Nine out of ten businesses who responded to the consultation thought Stratforward’s main job needed to be promoting the town – something the Business Plan focuses on.

It also includes developing Stratford’s evening economy, as well as supporting initiatives to help the business community by dealing with areas of concern highlighted, such as begging.

Ballots for the vote will be issued on August 31, and the ballot will end on September 27. The result of the ballot will be known the following day. A ‘yes’ vote will see BID3 start a five year term on April 1 next year. A ‘no’ vote will see the BID disbanded and all work end.

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