Saving the UK’s high streets: ‘Retail is just part of the solution’


Following Mary Portas recent bid to turn around the fortunes of the UK’s high streets, former Focus and Iceland boss Bill Grimsey is leading an ‘alternative’ review that embraces not just retail, but the role of health centres, education, housing and leisure in luring shoppers away from their tablets and back on Britain’s streets.

Grimsey will work alongside a team of retail experts to deliver a review to the three main political parties in the autumn.

Grimsey expresses that his review will be a “complete solution” to the high street’s challenges, studying health centres, education, housing and leisure.

As part of the review, retailing will be part of the solution but not the main driver, due to the growth of online and mobile, as well as the out-of-town mall culture.

The review will focus on proposals to reform the business rate system as well as planning, access to finance and local Government.

Commenting on the ‘alternative high-street’ proposals, Adam Stewart, Marketing Director, Rakuten’s, said: “News of an alternative high street review is a much needed step towards encouraging retailers to embrace new technology and innovation in shopping. There is a growing appetite amongst consumers for discovery shopping where engaging experiences are everything – exciting information and rich content is an invaluable addition to complement the product proposition.

“As many online retailers and marketplaces provide tailored suggestions, recommendations and services, it’s crucial to consider how such experiences can be translated in store. Social networks for example, are allowing retailers to connect with consumers using images of products that can shared amongst friends, shaping the way consumers research, discover and purchase. We will watch with interest as the ‘alternative’ review is announced in the Autumn.”

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