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RetaiLink cities start shaping a new retail offer based on their citizens

20 December 2016

Since the launch of RetaiLink, ten European cities are working together to define an action plan that revitalises its local retail. Each partner of the  network organizes participative local meetings with their main stakeholders. Besides, on international meetings, delegations from each city meet together to exchange experiences, and receive presentations from relevant experts about different aspects of retail and urban planning. Last meeting took place in Sibénik (Croatia) and inspired cities to keep working to create their own innovative retail strategy. 

RetaiLink cities are back home after an intensive 2-days meeting in Sibénik (Croatia). The event gathered a total of 45 participants including authorities, the project management team, and members of the local support groups. The different presentations and workshops enabled the cities to exchange experiences and acquire knowledge. This will help them analyse and rethink their retail model.

The event started with a conference about the key factors that enhance retail in cities, by Professor Simon Quin, director of the Institute of Placemaking from Manchester Metropolitan University. Mr. Quin focused on how to enhance viability and vitality –the reliability for new business to invest- in the city centre. As he explained, a recent research by the Institute of Placemaking concludes that “the more influential a factor is for the vitality of a retail area, the less controllable it is”. He focused on the 25 factors that have a real impact, specially the ones that towns can control.

Afterwards, Tom Kikkert, retail consultant and member of Hoogeveen’s Local Group, gave an inspirational talk focused on identity as a driver for value creation in retailing, defending that “companies with strong identity have better success”.

Next session was about High Street digitalisation strategies and tools, focused on digital solutions for retail business and retail areas. It was delivered by Guy Douglas and Xav Anderson from Clockwork City, a UK development agency on placemaking and socio-economic development with an omni-channel approach. “The consumers’ appreciate the immediate information of the place where they are and, from the smallest business to the bigger operator, everybody has a story to tell through the digital channels”, stated the experts.

 

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Citizens at the core of the new retail strategy

During the second day, Professor Luis Martínez- Ribes hosted a workshop that guided cities in the process of identifying the customer they want to serve, work on their positioning, and creating an innovative and effective retail strategy. Martínez-Ribes outlined the “amazing, open and proactive” attitude of the representants from the RetaiLink cities.

Sharing experiences and learning from each other is one of the main purposes of URBACT. Besides the experts invited, partners like Basingstoke (UK) presented a Retail Incubator, Romans (France) explained their Retail Observatory, and Hengelo and Hoogeveen (the Netherlands) described the participative process they carried out to create a Business Improvement District.

Back home, each city will now start working with their Local Groups on defining the objectives for the Integrated Action Plan. The next transnational meeting will be hosted by Liberec (Czech Republic) the 8th and 9th February. 

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