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ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21

Promoting the prosperity and vibrancy of Solihull Town Centre

tel0121 285 1370 solihullbid.co.uk


ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21

MESSAGE FROM THE

CHAIRMAN Kevin Johns

As we step into the summer, I’m sure many of us had hoped by now that restrictions would be a thing of the past, however 16 months into the global pandemic and it seems face masks and social distancing will remain very much present for the foreseeable. However as we look forward, it appears we are gradually approaching the horizon. We can once again travel to meet friends, enjoy a pint at the pub, and go shopping for more than just essentials. I am truly proud of the efforts made by Solihull BID to ensure our town is a safe place to do all of this. From giving out Solihull BID face masks, employing COVID marshals around the town and also sourcing and installing brand new seating around the high street, we have made every effort possible to welcome visitors back whilst keeping them safe. Walking around Solihull and seeing

I AM TRULY PROUD OF THE EFFORTS MADE BY SOLIHULL BID TO ENSURE OUR TOWN IS A SAFE PLACE

people enjoying the new seating areas while catching up with friends over a coffee, I can feel that the buzz around the town has returned and it is a delight to see doors opening once again. However, we must still all do our bit to keep each other safe, whilst getting out and about to support local businesses. If we all carefully take this next step, we can ensure our businesses will remain open for a long time still to come.

THE BID FIND THEMSELVES NEEDED NOW MORE THAN EVER, WORKING HARD TO PROVIDE MUCH NEEDED Tony Elvin EXPOSURE FOR OUR LEVY PAYERS

MESSAGE FROM THE

VICE CHAIRMAN 2 solihullbid.co.uk

Whilst we are slowly returning to some normality, the road to recovery will be long. The Government’s bill for supporting businesses through the pandemic is still growing and it is critical that this support, whilst already starting to diminish, continues to offer protection. Hospitality and retail businesses are not ready to bounce back yet. Venues have been trading with reduced capacity, retail sales and footfall, whilst more buoyant than

last year, are some way behind 2019 levels and the industry is experiencing staffing shortages. We have lost a number of businesses during the pandemic and many more are still vulnerable and carrying debit. It is against this backdrop that the BID find themselves needed now more than ever, working hard to provide much needed exposure for our levy payers, amplifying their messages, improving the environment they operate within and championing their cause.

Whilst there are plenty of vacant units across the town, the demand for these sites is unprecedented and 70% of these enquiries are from independent traders. The High Street isn’t dead, it’s evolving and we are proud to be catalysts for that change, supporting local business and keeping the High Street relevant for today and tomorrow’s demands, ensuring that Solihull remains an exciting and engaging place to do business, relax and enjoy.


MESSAGE FROM THE

SOLIHULL BID CEO

Mel Palmer

COVID has accelerated what retail economists saw coming. The devasting pandemic has fast tracked the collapse of the retail empire that dominated High Streets across the land, and all but strangled the hospitality industry. Despite all of this, Solihull remains ahead of the curve and as I write this we are busy supporting the opening of 16 new businesses, and it’s the independent traders leading the charge. It would seem that the lack of social interaction through lockdown has organically created the solution on how we green ourselves back into the black. Wellbeing, greening, walkability, and pedestrianisation are the buzz words of the now and those that are shaping our BID model moving forward. The introduction of our seating hubs, picnic benches, parasols and even a few grazing cow sculptures are the starting platform for what we hope to be a greater impact from BID on the public realm.

ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21

PEOPLE NEED PEOPLE. SOCIAL INTERACTION, COLLABORATION AND CREATIVITY ARE TOP OF THE VIRTUAL SHOPPING LIST People need people. Social interaction, collaboration and creativity are top of the virtual shopping list, our visitors want to get back to seeing, hearing, and touching (and spending) in a thriving environment. We welcome back our office workers who have been missed and thanks to our survey we have a deeper understanding of the challenges that may lie ahead within this sector but also the positive sentiment in returning to the offices for creativity and collaboration which has shown as lacking from home working. The safety of our workers, business owners and visitors will always be at the heart of all that we do. On this last lap of the release from COVID restrictions we remain committed to continuing our safety message and providing a reassuring presence to you all. Brighter days lie ahead of us, and with your support we will be here to take us into a fresh and bright future.

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ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21

TOWN CENTRE RECOVERY PLAN BUSINESS SUPPORT The past 12 months have been a challenging time, and one that has shown the BID’s swift ability to flex and adapt in crisis. When COVID struck, the BID was instantly mobilised into action to provide the services which our Solihull businesses required. From the early days of ‘What’s Happening?’ to the funding application masterclasses, re-opening tracker, hospitality advice webinars, floor stickers to manage the public safely and much more, our support has never been stronger. The physical presence of our Street Wardens checking all businesses, visitors and their staff are safe and secure throughout lockdown and beyond has provided an essential reassuring presence. Our reopening strategy – ‘A Blueprint for Resilience’ was endorsed and adopted into the SMBC recovery strategy documents. Behind the scenes we have worked on repositioning the pre-COVID plans to support the growth for all sectors. Our strategy switched from a planned expansion of the existing baseline provision to a swift RESET of projects to reflect the differing needs of the town centre, businesses and visitors. During lockdown in 2020, we conducted a ‘boots on the ground’ gap analysis and identified areas that were negatively impacting the visitor experience and business perception. By the close of 2020, BID plans had been finalised for ‘the big reset’ of the town centre. Using the information and data gathered from case studies across the UK, Solihull BID made the decision to move into the Public Realm sector, engaging with key partners at SMBC

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WHEN COVID STRUCK, THE BID WAS INSTANTLY MOBILISED INTO ACTION

to deliver granular physical changes that have a huge impact for visitors to the area. Funds were diverted from projects unable to proceed due to COVID restrictions, into the public realm works and various funding applications made to support this. We launched our seating hubs and other physical projects from the end of 2020 through to the present day where our project ideas continue to evolve.


ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21

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solihullbid.co.uk


ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21

INSOLIHULL MAGAZINE The InSolihull Magazine has been a constant support for our businesses throughout the past year. The online only lockdown versions that were in place switched to the hard copies this Spring. The magazines are hand delivered to businesses in the town and have resumed their places on the Chiltern mainline train stations and also for the first time we have used Royal Mail to deliver to over 5,000 local households. Solihull businesses can use the magazine to champion their unique focus or products to a wider audience, helping to grow our profile as the trend setters for the region.

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5,000 MAGAZINES WERE DELIVERED TO LOCAL HOUSEHOLDS


ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21

COMMUNICATION Keeping all of our businesses informed and connected has always been a top priority for the BID team. We use the data collected from our surveys and from the information given to our Business Hosts to develop our project strategies. The following documents are examples of how we have achieved this from our office focused newsletter to our Sense of Place report, keeping our business community united throughout the difficult journey we have all experienced over the past year.

BID CARD The BID employee card is one of the most successful employee benefit cards in the region. Managed totally in house, we give constant updates and monitor the success of offers and numbers of sign-ups.

50,000+ BID CARDS IN CIRCULATION

2,000+ DOWNLOADS OF THE SOLIHULL BID APP WHICH INCLUDES BID CARD OFFERS AND NEWS ON BID EVENTS

BUSINESSES ACTIVELY OFFERING BENEFITS WITH MORE ADDED ON A REGULAR BASIS

solihullbid.co.uk

120+

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ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21

BUSINESS SUPPORT SOCIAL MEDIA, WEBSITE & DIGITAL COVID compliance and business support funding created much uncertainty and the BID team were quick to react to the questions that were being raised about ‘who can do what’ and ‘how to apply’ for the myriad of funding available by activating our COVID Hub online. We also hosted two webinars specific to the hospitality sector on how to reopen safely.

Social media and online has never been so important which is why a designated COVID Support Hub was created on our website to inform the public about which businesses were still open in the town centre. Website visits increased by 225% at the start of the pandemic with the BID website proving to be the go-to hub for Solihull residents wanting real-time updates.

Our ‘Emerge Stronger’ campaign also addressed the mental health needs and unemployment issues as a result of COVID, a series of Podcasts posted to support throughout the year. Our ‘Lowdown on the Lockdown’ mini magazine was mailed out to 20k local residents helping to unravel the dos and don’ts of lockdown with an additional link to some fun online activities such as dance themed TikTok routines and fitness videos, creating a strong sense of loyalty for when our visitors could return.

Our video to showcase the safety procedures put in place throughout the town centre was watched over by over 50,000 in just three days. We then supported the reopening of the town centre in April by launching our ‘Solihull Welcomes You’ campaign. This included a Facebook ad which ran for four days, reaching 34,265 people and increased website visits by 20% with 65% of these being new visitors.

20,200+ FOLLOWERS ON SOCIAL MEDIA

250,000+

PAGE VIEWS ON THE BID WEBSITE OVER THE PAST 12 MONTHS 8

We have had a large number of new businesses opening up in the town centre, too. They are offered vital support as they open with the BID’s social media accounts shouting about the new companies flocking to the area. Crucially, we also kept our businesses up to date on Government funding, sending over 4,000 e-mails with information and links to application forms.

SOCIAL MEDIA AND ONLINE HAS NEVER BEEN SO IMPORTANT

solihullbid.co.uk


ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21

“We have all faced a challenging past 12 months but I have been incredibly pleased with how Solihull BID and my police teams have continued to work in partnership to ensure safety in the BID area. At a time of significant concern, a strong visible presence from the teams has provided reassurance to local communities. As business continues to open up it is important that we continue to build on these foundations and play our part in supporting the economy and local businesses.”

CHIEF SUPERINTENDENT IAN PARNELL, SOLIHULL POLICE COMMANDER

“As a new business, we were very anxious about opening up and putting ourselves out there. Curtis and I are new to owning a business so our lack of experience in PR was something that worried us. The BID has been a tremendous help in settling our nerves and supporting our start up. The Business Hosts inform us of all upcoming events for us to base our specials around and the team has provided great coverage for us online. Thank you all!”

IAN PARNELL - Chief Superintendent Ian Parnell, Solihull Police Commander

LUKE WEAVER (THE WOODS)

“Over the past 21 months, the BID has always been on hand to support us at Metro Bank and help out with any events we have had on. Both Business Hosts that work in the town centre are amazing and always on hand to help us.”

SURAJ MADLANI (METRO BANK) “Solihull BID are always there to support our business through theft prevention training, communicating our in-store offers through social media and keeping us up to date on local news and events. They are a pleasure to work with!”

NICHOLA ROBEY (THE ENTERTAINER)

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ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21

TOWN CENTRE EVENTS COVID has meant that we have been unable to launch our series of events over the past year. We have however managed to squeeze a few things in to the diary for July, which we are adapting to fit the delayed end of the road map. We look forward to the rest of the year when we can hopefully hold our ever growing food and drink festival and Christmas events.

WE LOOK FORWARD TO THE REST OF THE YEAR 10 solihullbid.co.uk


(Prime Accountants)

Vice Chair – Tony Elvin (Touchwood)

Paul Round

THE BID BOARD

ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21

Chairman – Kevin Johns

(Mell Square)

Kevin Crawford

(Skipton Building Society)

Leon Sloyan

(Metro Bank)

Amanda Dammers

(John Lewis & Partners)

Kirsten Pickering (National Grid)

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)

Kate Clarke

(BNP Paribas)

Mark Birch

(A-Plan Insurance)

Lawrence Smith

(The Core Theatre)

Helena Morrissey (Thursfields)

The BID Board also includes a representative from Solihull Police as well as from Solihull Council, as per the BID regulations.

FINANCES £580K £39.5k LEVY INCOME:

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 COST OF PROJECTS

£320k

 OPERATING COSTS

£128k

solihullbid.co.uk

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

OTHER INCOME:


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

Profile for Solihull BID

Solihull BID Annual Report 2020-21  

Solihull BID Annual Report 2020-21  

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