Boots UK, the Co-operative Group, Marks & Spencer and Santander join forces to help high streets prosper

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Responsible business charity Business in the Community (BITC), has announced a new Healthy High Streets campaign which will work with businesses to support UK high streets.

The first four businesses to take the lead will be Boots UK, the Co-operative Group, Marks & Spencer and Santander.

Building on the Portas High Street Review, over a three year period, the Healthy High Streets campaign will support 100 selected towns across the UK. Overall the campaign seeks to increase footfall by 10%, reduce empty property units by 20% and create 3,000 jobs in the selected towns.

The announcement was made by High Streets Minister Brandon Lewis, in his constituency in Great Yarmouth as part ofResponsible Business Week.

High Streets Minister Brandon Lewis said “The Healthy High Streets campaign is fantastic with 100 champions providing invaluable local support. It’s great to see the big players on the high street like Boots UK, the Co-operative Group, Marks & Spencer and Santander using their expertise to help all of the high street reach its potential.”

Over a three-year period, the Healthy High Streets campaign will create a network of local partnerships, provide access to business expertise and resource High Street Champions from up to eight partner companies who together will work locally to help high streets realise their potential.

The Healthy High Streets campaign will focus on towns that serve areas of high multiple deprivation, have potential for growth, have an established or emerging partnership to improve the town and are served by the businesses involved in the campaign. 

To increase the impact of the Healthy High Streets campaign beyond the 100 chosen towns, the partner businesses are committed to spreading the knowledge and ideas generated by the campaign across all of their UK store and branches.  Between them the Founding Partner businesses have around 9,100 stores and branches in towns throughout the UK.

Speaking on behalf of Business in the Community, Jane Pritchard, enterprise director, said: “We are optimistic about the future of high streets if businesses, government and communities work together to deliver a common vision. We’ve heard a lot about the problems – now we want to be part of the solution.”

High streets that would like to be involved are invited to apply and can register interest at www.bitc.org.uk/healthyhighstreets.

There will be an announcement about the location of the high streets in June.

To develop the campaign, Business in the Community has tested the High Street Champions initiative in a number of Portas Pilot towns and this work shows that the key markers of high street success are footfall, shop premises in use and local pride. Some examples of successful business involvement are:

  • Boots UK providing marketing support to Chrisp Street Market in London to devise a ‘healthy eating and living’ campaign to boost footfall in the area and improve customer service
  • The Co-operative Group supporting development of a parking refund trial with over 40 independent & national businesses and enabling  access to an empty property in Liskeard to host a 5 day a week market
  • Marks & Spencer and Lowestoft partnering on a successful application to become a Business Improvement District (BID) together with an  events programme that has helped increase footfall
  • Santander, the Town Centre Partnership and the police service in Dartford working  together to create youth sports facilities in the town centre

Darren Newman, Lowestoft Vision BID manager, said “The local Marks & Spencer manager plays a vitally important role in the town. Through his leadership he has been able to encourage other large business store managers to get involved.  We are delighted to have him as our High Street Champion.”

Business in the Community will also work with British BIDs, the British Council of Shopping Centres (BCSC) and the Prince’s Foundation for Building in the Community to deliver the campaign.

The launch of the Healthy High Streets campaign takes place at the culmination of Responsible Business Week.