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Key to high street revival lies at local level says new taskforce Chief

September 30, 2013

With almost 15 per cent of all shops on Britain’s high streets empty*, the new head of a key taskforce believes the answer to revival lies at a local level.

The Co-operative Estates’ Managing Director Martyn Hulme, who chaired his first meeting as Chair of the Business in the Community (BITC) High Streets Taskforce earlier this month, wants national businesses to encourage their staff at a local level to get involved with their communities to help reverse the decline.

The Taskforce, which was established in September 2011, includes representatives from The Co-operative Group, Wilkinsons, Marks & Spencer and the Post Office.  It focuses on how practical involvement of business on local high streets can create lasting change – through initiatives such as the High Street Champions scheme launched earlier this year.

Martyn, who takes over from Alex Gourlay, Chief Executive of Health and Beauty at Boots, said:

“Our towns and cities face complex structural problems which are not going to be solved easily, and businesses cannot tackle these challenges in isolation. Co-ordination and, naturally, co-operation is required between businesses – big and small – as well as local authorities and the communities we serve.

“I believe many national organisations have a wealth of expertise and knowledge at a local level and how we tap into this under used resource will be the primary focus of my role.

“Our High Street Champions initiative – introduced by Business in the Community earlier this year - brings together businesses to ‘adopt’ a handful of areas and works with local people to deliver positive change in their towns, and this is where we can make a real difference at ground level.

“Our Champions ensure that the local community is consulted about the future shape of their town environment and find innovative solutions to encourage business growth and increased footfall into the town centre.”

Stephen Howard, Chief Executive of Business in the Community, said:

“I’d like to thank Alex Gourlay for the fantastic work he has done in founding the High Streets work at Business in the Community and much has been achieved by the BITC High Streets Taskforce under his leadership.  However with Alex now moving to the US, we are delighted that Martyn Hulme, who has been a long time member of the Taskforce has agreed to take over the Chair.  As well as working for a major high street retailer, Martyn has a wealth of property experience which means he understands the landlord and tenant issues which impact on the vibrancy of our high streets.  I look forward to working with him.”

* Local Data Company:

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