Solihull BID Annual Report 2019 - 2020

Page 1



Promoting the prosperity and vibrancy of Solihull Town Centre

Page 1

MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIRMAN scheme, as well as the various support offered by Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council.

The first half of this year has provided a great challenge for all businesses, with not one being immune to the impact the current coronavirus pandemic has brought.

This support has allowed businesses to now continue, and as we venture into the “new normal� it is truly wonderful to see so many businesses and shops once again opening their doors eager to do business and thrive.

However, in a time that has been unexpected and difficult, we have seen resilience from the businesses within Solihull and a true effort to pull together to support one another, to combat the effects this pandemic has brought.

It is vital that we continue to work together to support one another within the community to ensure our local economy recovers and that we do not see any business close its doors as a result. As a town, we are strong and we will be able to come out of this even stronger as modifications are made to our business plans and we make Solihull a safe visitor destination and continue with the developments that were already in progress.

Support for our businesses has been a vital lifeline that has been greatly appreciated by those who sought help, from bank loans to the government job retention

The world has now changed and high streets will now look different with masks and protective screens being the normal and more seating outside

the restaurants on the high street, but we must now seek to increase footfall again and bring back the energy our town has. I am pleased that there was a resounding yes vote to keep the BID for a further 5 years, as this network is hugely appreciated by many in these challenging times. Over 90% of voters were in favour which will allow us to continue to plan and implement further initiatives knowing that the local business community has confidence in us. We hope that everyone can continue to support the local business community, as the levy payers contribute to the running costs associated with having a BID and therefore allows us to give back through the work that we do. I encourage everyone to stay safe during these unprecedented times and to support each other within the community.

- Kevin Johns

SOLIHULL BID CEO COVID-19 has touched all our lives and affected the global economy like nothing ever before. Whilst we are all still in various levels of recovery, it is clear that the fighting spirit of the nation remains strong and stories of kindness, resilience and innovation have been a consistent reminder of our survival spirit. The BID team continued to support and protect through the testing times of lockdown, keeping us all connected and involved. Our town centre recovery plan – ‘A Blueprint for Resilience’ has enabled us to work closely with our key partners through the crisis. (


Our street wardens provided essential security cover and empty building checks and patrols whist the nation was enduring enforced lockdown. We set up a COVID Hub enabling us to share first hand each day the essential news that could support our businesses and employees, including fast

track links to funding, templates for risk assessments and useful, home working hints and tips and webinar training. Our social media online presence has seen huge expansion, reflecting the need for a one stop information portal. We promoted the online and home delivery services in the town which then developed into our store re-opening tracker which had over 12k hits in one week. We have continued to support those businesses who need help with queue management, providing floor stickers, sign posts and wayfinding. We have brought in additional seating for the public to be able to use safely and children’s floor activity stickers and Monster Hero Safari trail as welcome distractions from the inevitable queuing, reinforcing the ‘we are open’ message within a safe and clean environment. The resounding yes vote we achieved last November has given us a clear mandate from our businesses that we are providing the services that you asked for, with a 90% yes vote we can go

- Melanie Palmer forward with confidence into our third BID term taking us up to 2025. We are proud to work closely with our BID businesses, listening, learning and adapting our approach to our multi-sector projects that we have been asked to deliver. All project details and our business plan, can be found on our website -

If there ever was a time that the town centre needed strong place management and leadership it is now. We aim to take strength from the crisis, take what we have learnt over the past months and craft our new projects to align with our changed future. We can only do this with your continued support, enthusiasm, confidence, and innovation. Together we will build a new future that will put Solihull once again shining brightly and leading out from the front.

Page 3

MARKETING, PROMOTIONS AND EVENTS EVENTS AND FESTIVALS Whilst the country is temporarily on hold to host live events with large gatherings it’s important to remind ourselves that they are an integral part of the make-up of a vibrant town centre community, and they will return.

The BID events have become stronger year on year and this year would have seen our largest Solihull Food and Drink Festival to date. All our events, unlike many other towns and cities, involve the businesses that work in the town all year round, ensuring that the public return post event. Our ability to react ‘fleet of foot’ to the economic landscape means that whilst the physical events are unable to run we have continued to promote through online themes

Page 4

such as the VE Day project where we received hundreds of entries of home made squares to take part in our symbolic ‘Piece for Peace’ project. ( events/pieceforpeace/) We have also used our online portals to promote the outstanding overall offer in Solihull, and never more so than now. Our website and social media reports showed a growth of 200% during the pandemic and remain consistently high. In recognition of this our key partners at Solihull Council, Chamber of Commerce and the West Midlands Combined Authority also provide information for us to add to our “Go To” site for up to date information.

The BID Excellence Awards were held once again in November last year. Another wonderful heart warming and fun evening, showcasing the outstanding talent and vision of the Solihull business fraternity. The Awards have expanded and now include a fundraising element for the event. Last year we raised funds for the homeless charity Change Into Action and our next awards are planned for March 2021 where we will be supporting the NHS and key worker heroes. The next 12 months will be testing times, but rest assured, the BID will be there along the way supporting, promoting and pushing the dial towards a successful future.

Page 5

SAFER AND MORE SECURE The safety and security of our businesses, workers and visitors has, and always will be, a priority. Our Safe and Secure projects have been designed to ensure Solihull maintains its reputation as an attractive and safe environment to visit, and a sought-after destination in which to invest and do business. We have made changes to the way we deliver our Safe and Secure project to you. After reviewing the current levels of crime and anti-social behaviour and increase in street begging we decided to take a more robust approach to reinforce the message of our zero tolerance towards criminal behaviour. We have recruited two street wardens

Page 6

who have a wealth of experience in working within a town centre environment, are SIA and First Aid accredited, and are passionate about keeping our town centre safe and secure.

arrests, warnings and bans, the town centre is now galvanised against those who flaunt the law.

The two wardens engage with our businesses to deliver stock loss prevention training, distraction walkthroughs to deter theft, and hints and tips on how to stay safe. Their expereince enables them to identify, refer and assist any vulnerable individuals to the care providers available. They work closely with the local policing team, with shared patrols and weekly information gathering and joint tasking. The results have been outstanding, with numerous

(L to R: Lead Street Warden Jason with Street Warden Amy)

Page 7

SUPPORTING THE PROFESSIONAL SERVICE AND OFFICE SECTOR The Professional Services and Office Sector make up just under 50% of the Solihull BID area and are the backbone of the town centre. The successful 2 square miles of Solihull has attracted many high profile global investors such as National Grid Ventures, N Power, Paragon and BNP Paribas Personal Finance and is the hot house zone for independent innovators and creators. Solihull remains the sweet spot to investors and the continued redevelopment of the area to accommodate the growth in the office and service sector is a reflection of this. Solihull is in the heart of the country enabling swift connection to the whole of the UK and beyond. HS2 adds another string to the bow, all eyes are on the Midlands region as a place to invest, the home of connectable business nestled into a green and safe community. Our business plan sets out a comprehensive plan to promote, connect and support our network of offices and professional services.

Page 8

Events such as the Solihull Business Expo, BID Biz Club, online webinar training, social media promotion, business games and much more. As our offices begin to reopen we will be there by their side promoting the outstanding contribution from this critical sector. Throughout our engagement with this sector we have listened to the needs and modified our focus accordingly. The key element that has been communicated to us is to ensure that all businesses are continuously connected and informed. The BID BIZ Club has been successful in not only engaging with the Solihull town centre business community but also had attracted interest from the wider community enabling Solihull to sell its premium offer to a new audience. We are currently running the BID BIZ club as a free online webinar, details to sign up are on our website. The first Solihull Business Expo was launched in March 2019 and proved a huge success, promoting Solihull

business from the stunning Crowne Plaza hotel to over 500 visitors. The Business Matters ‘Sing Solihull’ choir who meet twice monthly has grown to over 45 individuals attending from a selection of office-based businesses, a great well-being activity and a useful ‘know your neighbour’ forum. The InSolihull Magazine has dedicated business pink pages showcasing the breadth of business talent in the area and gives some interesting insights into the world of commerce and investment in the area. The BID Card acts as a great tool for employee engagement and inclusion into the shop local community, this is continually growing and the recent addition of the free app has made the discount card increase in use and popularity. We look forward to a brighter future together moving forward into 2021 and beyond.

INSOLIHULL MAGAZINE The InSolihull magazine continues to be a valued method of communication between our town centre business whilst also reaching a much wider audience from its distribution along the Chiltern mainline to London.

investment from those who feature in it, generating more business and increasing enquiries. It is a one stop shop to promote all the fantastic products and services available in Solihull Town Centre.

The glossy free magazine is attracting a growing readership with positive returns on

We are the only Solihull magazine researched, managed and produced in Solihull.

For now the next magazine issue will be digital only, we will return to our printed issue in November this year.



50,000+ BID cards in circulation

The BID Card is one of the most successful employee benefit cards in the region.


Registered users receive weekly emails


Businesses actively offering benefits

Managed totally in house we give constant updates and monitor the success of offers and numbers of sign ups. The launch of the BID Card app means that the offers are available to view on the go, and the sign ups for this have been incredible.

Page 9

WEBSITE The Solihull BID website has continued to evolve and became the go-to place for information for Solihull during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the start of lockdown, the COVID-19 advice hub advised the public on which businesses remained open whilst also including information on supermarkets, public transport, working from home best practice and wellness. It also included a full detailed list of financial support available to businesses through the Government and instructions on how to apply.

Visits to the website grew by over 200% and once lockdown started to ease, a new Store Tracker was created to keep visitors and shoppers up to date on the retail businesses opening back up in the town centre. A range of webinars on topics such as re-opening the evening economy, digital marketing, being visible on Google and financial advice were also organised to give businesses and employees vital information and assistance.

website increased 61% to 106,655 and website page views rose 15% to 227,539. The BID’s social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn) have attracted 2,389 new followers/likes. This is an increase of 62% on the same period last year. This was helped by the performance of the ‘Solihull town centre reopens’ video which reached over 75,000 people on social media.


Over this annual period, the number of visitors to the

SOCIAL MEDIA Our social media channels have also played a key role in our communications strategy. Over 18,500 people now follow us across all of our channels. Prizes donated by levy payers and behind the scenes, offers, BID activities, festivals and events have helped connect with each of our followers.


Likes on Facebook


Followers on Twitter

For each event we open an event page on Facebook with these reaching a wide audience. For example, the pages promoting our Food Festival and Festive Feast events were each seen by over 85,000 people. Facebook: @Solihullbid Twitter: @SolihullBID Instagram: @solihullbid Linkedin: Solihull Business Improvement District

Page 10


Followers on Instagram


Followers on Linkedin

Winners of Best Business Support Scheme at The National Town and City Management Awards Page 11

THE BID BOARD The Solihull BID Board is made up of volunteer representatives from a diverse range of organisations from within the BID area. They meet every other month to provide strategic direction and support to the full-time team,

Leon Sloyan Metro Bank

oversee delivery of the business plan and review expenditure and performance. Subcommittees also meet frequently to monitor the progress of projects.

Kirsten Pickering Kate Clarke National Grid BNP Paribas Ventures Personal Finance

If you would like to find out more about the board, or wish to become a board member, please email

Perry Wardle Lawrence Smith SMBC The Core Theatre

Kevin Johns Prime Accountants - BID Board Chair

Craig Underwood West Midlands Police

Tony Elvin Touchwood - Vice Chair

James Devlin John Lewis & Partners

Paul Round Mell Square

James Newland Kevin Crawford Wider Skipton Building Society

Mark Birch A Plan

Edward Holland Crowne Plaza

FINANCES *these are the projected costs only as BID end of financial year is 31st July, full accounts will be available at the AGM in January 2021.

Total Income


Cost of Projects Page 12


Overhead Costs


Reserves £100k (reallocated to 2021 budget due to COVID-19)

@SOLIHULLBID 0121 285 1370