A retail expert from Australia has been on a fact-finding mission to Swindon to see how they can use the successful Business Investment District (BID) model over there.
David West, consultant with Australian company Premier Retail Marketing, is looking at how a BID could work in Adelaide, as it does in Swindon.
Town centre management company inSwindon runs the Swindon BID, which involves retailers within the BID district paying an extra 1 per cent levy on top of their normal business rates and agreeing how this will be used.
A proportion of the levy funds the Street Team, the popular ambassadors in the town centre, whose role is to keep a watch on what is going on, assist shoppers with queries, make people feel safe and help deal with antisocial and criminal activity. Another portion is spent on events – such as the Christmas lights switch on – to attract in more shoppers.
Bernie Maguire, inSwindon Operations Manager, spent a day with David, pictured right, showing him around a range of sites in the town, including The Brunel, the outlet centre, and New Swindon Company area.
He explained just how Swindon had metamorphosed in the last decade and what further plans there were for improvement in the next. “He was really interested in what we have been doing in Swindon and what our plans are for the future,” he said. “He wanted to know about the Street Team and how we deal with issues of security.
“What interested me was that, while Australia is the other side of the world, the problems and issues they have there are the same that we have to deal with here. There are no geographical boundaries – graffiti, begging, and antisocial behaviour are just as much issues there as they are for us. I hope we were able to give some hints on how to deal with them effectively.”
David, who is in the UK until the end of June looking at other BID areas and retail centres, said Swindon had impressed him.
“I read about Swindon BID on their website and really wanted to come and see for myself,” he said. “I think it is really amazing what has been going on and the changes that are happening, with all the new buildings and hotels going up. Wow! We are able to take a levy in Adelaide too and, just like Swindon, we have the same sort of issues, such as security, and pressures on all retail centres to compete with each other. There is a lot I can take home with me.”