Birmingham council has appointed a business manager to distribute a pot of £1m to help rejuvenate the city’s independent retail community.
Nigel Godfrey, former business manager of business improvement body Retail Birmingham, has been hired to head the initiative, which is part of a country-wide £1.5bn package of support measures set up by the Government’s Working Neighbourhoods Fund (WNF).
Birmingham has been awarded £57m of the total fund, £1m of which has been allocated to the independent retail initiative. Godfrey will work with town centre and neighbourhood managers in all areas of the city to support independent retailers on getting access to the finance and business advice available through the WNF.
The money available can be spent in a variety of ways, including on store refurbishment and marketing. For new retailers the cash can also be put towards rent and rates.
“In challenging times it is more important than ever that the council and its partners work together to provide support to our local traders, who are the lifeblood of our local economy,” said Neville Summerfield, cabinet member for regeneration at Birmingham council. “I’ve been out to our town centres across the city and have seen the determination and resilience of Birmingham’s indies. Nigel will play a key role in helping to further unlock their potential for growth, which will also feed the growth of the city and region’s wider economy.”
Birmingham indies contacted by Drapers were broadly positive about the initiative.
Mark Howard, owner of Birmingham menswear indie Disorder, which sells its own Disorder brand alongside works of art, was optimistic.
“It depends how much feeds down,” he said. “Retail Birmingham has been a success and if this is an extension of it then it should be successful too.”