Last week in The Netherlands, some 250 place management practitioners and policy makers from across Europe gathered to discuss the future of retail in medium size city centres. In a snap survey of the audience, over half said the retail sector in their town was “troublesome” whilst just 12% described it as “booming”. It is in The Netherlands, however, that some interesting responses are happening.
The event heard from Mona Keijzer, State Secretary of Economic Affairs in The Netherlands, who noted that they have a national retail strategy, the only country in the EU that does so. It also heard from Henk Brink, from the province of Drenthe on how the province is allocating one third of funding to match spending by local authorities and private sector investment to revitalise town and city centres.
An ad-hoc homeless shelter emerged in central Manchester last year when people squatted for several days at the disused Cornerhouse cinema bringing attention to the plight of the homeless and lack of affordable housing in this severely austere climate, alas with no conspicuous societal change. Homeless continue to struggle with hardships amidst boundless apathy in Manchester and almost everywhere else in the world.
So much commentary surrounding the economic fortunes of town and city centres in the UK in recent years alludes to a “before” and “after”, sometimes implicitly, sometimes explicitly. The “before”? Well, that usually refers to a pre-2008 financial crisis golden age, where town centre retail was in plentiful supply, upward-only rental reviews were commonplace, and the high street was the destination of choice for shoppers. Fast forward to the post-recession era, we entered the age of the “after”, where squeezed household budgets, reduced credit, fuelled a rise in charity shops, cheaper online alternatives, budget retailers and bargain hunting.
The past decade has been a turbulent one for our towns and cities culminating in a vote to leave the EU on the 23 June 2016. Will this vote to redraw the boundaries of a major trading bloc and political union, significantly altering the geopolitical landscape, have such a profound legacy that high streets will be understood in the dichotomy of “pre-Brexit” and “post-Brexit”? Continue reading “JPMD Open Acces: Guest Editorial High Street UK 2020”→
Recently I gave a public lecture as part of the DARWIN SHREWSBURY Festival, celebrating Charles Darwin, the author of On the Origin of Species, in which he introduced the theory of natural selection, whereby populations evolve over the course of generations. Published in 1859, this book, considered to be a foundation of evolutionary biology, has been voted the most influential academic book in history.
So what is the connection to the town of Shrewsbury, the county town of Shropshire, in western England? Shrewsbury was Darwin’s birthplace, and he spent his formative years there. The DARWIN SHREWSBURY Festival (see http://www.originalshrewsbury.co.uk/darwin-shrewsbury-festival ) is a two and a half week programme of events celebrating the town’s link to Darwin, aimed at ‘celebrating Shrewsbury as the origin of independent thinking’. Shamelessly drawing on as many analogies from Darwin’s work as I could manage, my lecture was on ‘The Evolution of Place Branding’. Humour aside, the fact that this festival was taking place raises some very interesting questions about how places can use associations with their famous sons and daughters for the purposes of marketing and branding. Continue reading “DARWIN SHREWSBURY – Personality Association and Place Branding”→
When Rosa Alba Impronta, president of the Made in Cloister Foundation in Naples, Italy, talks about her dream for the future, she sees a large, financially independent, cultural centre, whose impact will be sensed outside its walls: it will resonate in the neighbourhood of Porta Capuana, where it is located, but also beyond that, in the whole city of Naples.
Professor Cathy Parker (Chair of the IPM and Professor of Retail and Marketing Enterprise at Manchester Metropolitan University) and Dr Julie Grail (a Senior Fellow at IPM and Special Adviser on BIDs), have answered some of the frequently asked questions about the job role.
Cathy has been an academic professor at Manchester Met for over 10 years and is one of the founding members of the IPM, which was established in 2006.
Normalising jurisdictional heterotopias through place branding: The cases of Christiania and Metelkova
by Nikos Ntounis* and Jenny Kanellopoulou**
Whereas a utopia refers to an idealised, but probably non-existent, ‘perfect’ place or society, and a dystopia as the opposite, a bad place or society in collapse, the concept of a heterotopia, as discussed by French philosopher and social theorist Michel Foucault, refers to a place or society that is different, or other, a place that has many layers of meaning, but also a place or society that offers some sort of escape from authoritarianism or repression.
In this article Nikos Ntounis and Evgenia (Jenny) Kanellopoulou consider both legal and political issues associated with place branding through their research into ‘jurisdictional heterotopias’, and how these places can become normalised through place branding associations, with such normalisation leading to not only their mainstream acceptance, but also to ‘the potential nullification of the liberties their communities advocate’. Continue reading “IPM Research: Normalising jurisdictional heterotopias through place branding”→
January 2018 saw the launch of The BID Foundation, which I believe is an important and fundamental step in addressing the needs of Business Improvement Districts in the UK. The first BID was established in Kingston in 2005, and as BIDs have matured and taken on new activities as well as growing to now operate in nearly 300 locations, there are new challenges emerging. The BID Foundation, an industry-led body being supported by the Institute of Place Management, has been formed to provide strategic direction and practical support to help the sector respond to these challenges and move forward. When BIDs started in this country they were focused primarily in town centres and addressed issues such as cleanliness and safety, place promotion and marketing as well as business support. The economic changes of the last decade, the decline in public sector funding that is available, the growth of online shopping, changes to how we seek entertainment, new security issues, and enhanced consumer expectations about the places they spend time in, are all impacting on the role of BIDs.
I recently had the opportunity to visit the town of Emsdetten(Westphalia, Germany), invited by the mayor’s office, in order to discuss the possibilities of a new Town Centre Management scheme. Emsdetten is a small town of 35,000 inhabitants in Westphalia, close to the city of Münster. Its centre, defined by a ring road and comprising approximately one tenth of the whole area, mainly consists of semi-pedestrianized streets and a locally important retail sector. What is however striking, is that in this rather wealthy town, where unemployment is low (under 4%) and medium income high, there are more and more empty shops. What exactly is happening here? And, furthermore, what can a future Town Centre Management do?
The IPM has been collecting and analysing similar information from UK cities for a long time , looking both at the factors that contribute to a place’s vitality and to broader trends in retail (e.g. the HSUK2020 and BDSU projects) . Whereas the UK experience cannot be directly transferred to Germany, there are however several phenomena that we observe – e.g. growth of online retail, changes in customer expectations, lifestyle differentiation, income disparities – across borders in many European locations. Continue reading “Town Centre Management in Emsdetten, Germany”→