Solihull BID Annual Report 2021-22

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ANNUAL REPORT 2021-22

Promoting the prosperity and vibrancy of Solihull Town Centre

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ANNUAL REPORT 2021-22

When we look back to this time last year, we were in a very different position to where we are now. By now, nearly all of us have had our third or maybe fourth jab, we are no longer seeing daily death tolls on the news, PCR test sites have disappeared and life is now pretty much normal.

MESSAGE FROM THE

CHAIRMAN Kevin Johns

We can enjoy shopping with no masks, meeting friends for coffee and have nights out at concerts, theatres or even nightclubs (if you’re lucky enough to still be young!) as we previously did with no social distancing in place and it is truly great to see these businesses getting back on their feet. We have each other to thank for this being possible, by complying with previous rules & getting vaccinated, we have enabled Solihull to return to a much more normal state, and the town centre is once again the exciting business hub that continues to grow day by day.

VICE CHAIRMAN Tony Elvin

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THE TOWN CENTRE IS ONCE AGAIN THE EXCITING BUSINESS HUB THAT CONTINUES TO GROW DAY BY DAY.

Solihull BID have done a wonderful job organising a string of future events, that follow the successful events over the past year such as the Food & Drink Festival, Jingle Bell Jog & most recently celebrations for the Jubilee. These events have seen a large amount of engagement and it’s fantastic to see Solihull get its spirit back.

When I was asked for my comments for the annual report a year ago, whilst outperforming the UK average for retail and hospitality footfall and sales, we were, understandably, tracking some way behind pre pandemic levels. The recovery was slow and fragile, with many businesses carrying significant debt. Fast forward twelve months and whilst we’re not in the clear yet, the recovery is certainly on.

MESSAGE FROM THE

With more exciting months on the horizon, including the Commonwealth Games on our doorstep in Birmingham and HS2 continuing to make steady progress, I am confident that if we work together and make the most of the opportunities presented to Solihull, our business community will continue to thrive.

April 2022 was the first month since the beginning of the pandemic where retailer and hospitality sales eclipsed those in the same month of 2019. By June 2022, Touchwood had more businesses trading than at the beginning of March 2020 and as a town centre, footfall is still outperforming the West Midlands and UK average by circa 7%, coming close to 2019 levels. This performance has only been possible with the support of Solihull BID, Solihull Council, the Chambers of Commerce, West Midlands Police and the loyalty of Solihull people, putting feet on the ground and supporting Solihull businesses. Having worked in the Home Counties, Devon, Manchester, Birmingham and the East Midlands, I can honestly say that the collaboration and team working within our local network is, in my opinion, unrivalled.

Touchwood has 95% tenant occupancy, with every remaining vacant unit under offer, and it’s a similar picture across the rest of the town. Further evidence of the critical role Solihull BID has played in ensuring Solihull remains a buoyant and engaging place to do business for hospitality, retail and professional services. With rising costs and financial uncertainty, the outlook remains challenging but together, working as a cohesive business community, with the BID acting as the glue to bind us all together, we can move forwards with confidence and resolve.

SOLIHULL REMAINS A BUOYANT AND ENGAGING PLACE TO DO BUSINESS FOR HOSPITALITY, RETAIL AND PROFESSIONAL SERVICES.

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New business start-ups, growth in the hospitality sector and imaginative experiential marketing have all contributed to the successful recovery of Solihull town centre. The BID team have been busy supporting our new starters and promoting the whole of the town centre as the destination of choice for visitors and investors.

MESSAGE FROM THE

SOLIHULL BID CEO Mel Palmer

The Safe and Secure project has provided a continued reassuring presence for workers and visitors to the town. Crime has seen a spike post COVID and our Street Wardens have recovered stock from detained shoplifters to the value of a staggering £80,000 in the past eight months. We continue to work closely with the Police and local partners to keep the town centre a safe and welcoming environment.

We have survived such tough times and with the cost-of-living crisis upon us it will continue to be a difficult pathway for us all but Solihull is and will always remain ahead of the curve. Myself and the BID team remain passionately committed to supporting the amazing two square miles of success that is Solihull Town Centre.

OUR EVENTS PROGRAMME THIS YEAR IS PACKED WITH ACTIVITY TO ATTRACT VISITORS OLD AND NEW TO OUR INNOVATIVE TOWNSCAPE.

ANNUAL REPORT 2021-22

2022 has seen the green shoots of recovery forming post COVID, encouraging positive results that are now emerging from the ashes of the devastating pandemic.

Our events programme this year is packed with activity to attract visitors old and new to our innovative townscape. Solihull is at the forefront of animating the environment, raising the profile of Solihull as the place to go for work, meeting friends and family and of course shop and dine out! We started the year with our dog friendly campaign, which was a resounding success and attracted new visitors from further afield. We will continue to reinforce the message that we are a dog friendly town, whilst promoting our diverse programme of events.

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ANNUAL REPORT 2021-22

ANIMATING OUR PUBLIC SPACE EVENTS AND FESTIVALS Solihull BID have been delivering key landmark events for the past 11 years and our expertise and knowledge of the events industry and the changing landscape of town centres has helped us to deliver these events to the highest standard. Working with key partners, we are thrilled to have the first footfall counters installed in the town centre. They should all be in place by the summer allowing us to give some all-important statistics to back our anecdotal feedback. In our post COVID world, events and festivals are more in demand than ever as we all want to come together to celebrate with music, food and great entertainment. Our Food & Drink Festival last year included celebrity chef Ainsley Harriott who was a huge hit with the public, and Ainsley loved it so much he didn’t want to leave! The Rum & Reggae event that supports our Food Festival on the High Street was so popular that we have relocated it this year into Mell Square to accommodate the expected crowds. The food voucher booklet was mailed out to over 20,000 homes and the return visitors to our restaurants and bars made a positive impact just at the time it was needed. Our Jingle Bell Jog and Festive Feast also brought in the crowds and the additional Christmas lights really set the scene for attracting more visitors. This year we have packed in the events to mark this first year of real recovery. We started with the Dog Friendly campaign, moving swiftly on to the Platinum Jubilee celebrations,

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THIS YEAR WE HAVE PACKED IN THE EVENTS TO MARK THIS FIRST YEAR OF REAL RECOVERY.

closely followed by the Jazz Festival and Commonwealth Games events. Our Jazz Festival this year is extended to cover a traditional tea dance and we are also launching an evening with a Take That tribute act and a guest spot for Robbie Williams too. Bringing music, activity and innovative interactive events for the public to enjoy, and really looking after those valued customers once they are here, is the secret to Solihull’s success.


ANNUAL REPORT 2021-22

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ANNUAL REPORT 2021-22

MARKETING AND PROMOTING INSOLIHULL MAGAZINE

WEBSITE

The InSolihull Magazine has grown from a tiny newsletter to the 40-page magazine that boasts about the wonderful Solihull from Birmingham to London.

The Solihull BID website is the only dedicated site promoting everything our town centre has to offer, from our business success to our innovative events programme. Regularly updated to include the latest news, information and new openings, our website is a dynamic online promotional tool for all Solihull businesses.

Delivered through Royal Mail to various local postcodes, it’s also showcased on stands at Birmingham Moor Street, in the Virgin VIP Lounge at Birmingham International and at Solihull and Dorridge train stations. The free magazine has been one of our most robust and effective methods to promote everything the town has to offer. The dedicated professional services section gives our office-based businesses the chance to showcase the wealth of talent and vision we have here. The magazine can also be found online at www.solihullbid.co.uk

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270k

page views on the BID website over the past 12 months (1st June 2021 – 1st June 2022). An increase of 39% on the previous 12 month period.

SOCIAL MEDIA

22,250+ followers across social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and TikTok) Videos on our new TikTok account have already attracted over 9,000 views and allows us to promote our brilliant businesses and town centre to a younger audience.

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ANNUAL REPORT 2021-22

KEEPING OUR TOWN CENTRE SAFE Keeping our town centre safe and secure is at the heart of everything we do. Feedback from businesses, locals and visitors has given us a clear mandate to prioritise safety and retain our status as one of the safest and most welcoming areas in the UK. Our Street Wardens provide a reassuring, welcoming presence to visitors and are hugely appreciated by businesses, providing instant help with any crime related incidents.

£94,000 Our Street Wardens have recovered over £94,000 worth of stock in the past 12 months, returning the items to the affected store.

Over 50 retailers on our Solihull town centre retail radio link. This gives businesses instant access to our Street Wardens as well as Solihull Police, the CCTV Control Room and Touchwood and Mell Square security.

Over 115 premises have at least one member of staff registered on DISC – our crime reporting app for Solihull town centre. The app, totally GDPR compliant, allows businesses to share intel in real time to their fellow retailers.

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ANNUAL REPORT 2021-22

BUSINESS MATTERS Solihull is bursting with talent from both well known brands to our growing range of independents in our office and professional services sector. We recognise the shift to working from home and it does appear that we are moving towards a permanent hybrid of blended work patterns which impacts the retail and hospitality sector. Whilst our lunchtime tills may be quieter, there remains an opportunity to re engage with offices workers, who we know through recent surveys are craving the social interaction and community support. The BID team are working hard on maintaining the positive ’sense of place’ and being aware of the critical importance of keeping the town centre alive in its ‘look and feel’ . If we can continually communicate the offers, exciting new openings, new job

vacancies, workshops and training opportunities to our office teams then they remain part of the essential backbone of the town. Our Pub Quizzes provide an ideal opportunity to network and feel part of the business community, the BID employee card add the shop local loyalty, and our awards give everyone time to shine. The events and festivals always have an additional giveaway with free lunches or similar to the Solihull workers. The Business in Solihull section of the magazine also showcases the wealth of talent within the sector to businesses outside the area all the way down to Marylebone on the Chiltern mainline.

THE BUSINESS IN SOLIHULL SECTION OF THE MAGAZINE ALSO SHOWCASES THE WEALTH OF TALENT WITHIN THE SECTOR TO BUSINESSES OUTSIDE THE AREA.

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ANNUAL REPORT 2021-22

A SENSE OF PLACE WE HAVE INSTALLED:

With large scale closures across the country and more retail being converted into residential space and the ever present challenges of armchair online shopping, the future of town centres could look questionable.

Colourful bunting on Mill Lane and Mell Square Festoon lighting on Mill Lane and Mell Square

However, here in Solihull we have embraced the changes and recognised that the key to a successful town is to create an inviting space for social interaction, somewhere where people don’t ‘need’ to shop but they want to shop, dine and meet.

Installed new interactive Christmas lights into the High Street trees, and new Christmas light installations into Mell Square and Mill Lane

We have recognised the gaps in provision for families and installed the new children’s play area and additional seating for parents and carers. Working with local partners we developed our sense of place proposal and delivered changes to the public realm that have had a huge positive impact on the townscape. Our vision is to provide a welcoming, exciting space where the public can interact. Once we have people here, the dwell time is automatically increased with the enhanced al fresco seating offer and wide range of things to do throughout the year.

Installed a children’s play area themed on our ‘town in the country’ credentials, into Mell Square

OUR VISION IS TO PROVIDE A WELCOMING, EXCITING SPACE WHERE THE PUBLIC CAN INTERACT.

Re-introduced the monthly ‘Farmers Market’ on the first Saturday of the month, with live entertainment and free face painting Removed the old broken planters around the town centre and installed eight Seating Hubs, planted with sensory plants and planting schemes to encourage butterflies and bees

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Solihull has a glowing reputation for being one of the best places to live, work and visit. We aim to keep the flag flying high and retain our status as one of the best. We are working together with key partners to reinforce the brand that is ‘Solihull’ through marketing channels across all media platforms with additional unique selling points introduced throughout the year. Our dog friendly campaign was a huge success attracting visitors from further afield and new visitors who were thrilled to see the welcome for dog owners into the town. Over 50 businesses now have a branded window sticker, dog bowls and treats and are part of the dog friendly permanent campaign online. The Jubilee four day event again

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brought in new visitors who had made a special trip in to join in the celebrations and discover Solihull for the first time. The VIP Platinum card is our new campaign to attract and retain shoppers, offering discounts and experiences only available in Solihull. 20k cards were distributed through Royal Mail and a further £10k were given out at our events. The cards are a robust way to reinforce the ‘shop local’ sentiment and positive place association. Our independent businesses are a critical part of the business landscape and we ensure we are promoting these companies to showcase our unique offer. Our family trails direct footfall into shops with quirky fun interactive activities to increase the attractiveness of the offers.

solihullbid.co.uk


(Prime Accountants)

THE BID BOARD The BID is governed by a board of voluntary directors made up from all sectors in the business community. Their input is invaluable and our bi-monthly board meetings are an ideal platform to share ideas and best practice. (If you would like to know more about joining the BID Board then do email melanie@solihullbid.co.uk)

ANNUAL REPORT 2021-22 2020-21

Chairman – Kevin Johns Vice Chair – Tony Elvin (Touchwood)

Leon Sloyan

(Metro Bank)

Kirsten Pickering (National Grid)

Kate Clarke

(BNP Paribas)

Neil Churchard

(John Lewis & Partners)

Kyle Hadley (Lush)*

Alison McGrory (SMBC)*

Chief Inspector Deborah Johnson

(West Midlands Police)* *The BID Board includes some co-opted members including a representative from Solihull Police as well as from Solihull Council, as per the BID regulations.

FINANCES £633K £29k LEVY INCOME:

*THESE ARE THE PROJECTED COSTS ONLY AS BID END OF FINANCIAL YEAR IS 31ST JULY.

 COST OF PROJECTS

OTHER INCOME:

£510k 11

 OPERATING COSTS

£136k solihullbid.co.uk


@SOLIHULLBID 0121 285 1370 WWW.SOLIHULLBID.CO.UK