Out-of-town retailers ‘must fund town centre revival’

Tax breaks and financial support from out-of-town retailers are needed if retail guru Mary Portas is to rejuvenate the UK’s flagging high streets, according to the former commercial director of The Co-operative Travel Group.

Responding to the government’s decision to employ TV’s ‘Queen of Shops’ to review the country’s high streets, Shaun Hinds called for a more strategic approach to town centre planning.

Hinds, who was responsible for more than 400 high street travel agencies, said brands using retail parks should be forced to support the high street.

“The way to encourage people back to town centres is to create tax breaks for retailers and gain support from the big guys. If you want to open a new supermarket out of town, you should commit some funding to regenerate town centres,” said Hinds.

Hinds warned the review would be a ‘report that sits on a shelf’ if not backed by co-ordinated action. Agents told Travel Weekly that parking issues and vacant shops were to blame for putting off shoppers, while suggestions included high street loyalty schemes and ‘library’ areas in agencies.

Inspired Travel owner Kate Harris, the Cover Star of this week’s Travel Weekly magazine, urged agents to copy successful brands. “Have an area in your agency that’s like a library, with a coffee machine that entices people to stay longer. So many agents are so stuck in the 1970s.”

Travel Angels managing director Peter Grayson suggested vacant shops should have window displays. “Empty shops need to be presentable, otherwise they affect the look of the town,” he said.

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