Wednesday 11 December 2013
It is the product of several months' work by the Guernsey Retail Strategy Group, a joint public - private sector Group set up by Commerce and Employment to examine the retail economy in Guernsey and to prepare a strategy which will help enhance this important economic sector. The Commerce and Employment Board has recently endorsed the Group's strategy document.
Deputy Kevin Stewart, the Commerce and Employment Department Minister, said:
"C&E is of course supportive of all parts of the Guernsey economy and the retail sector is a very important element. It makes a major contribution to the exchequer and employs approximately 4,000 people - making it the Island's third biggest economic sector in terms of numbers employed. I hope this Strategy document demonstrates that Government is keen to see the sector flourish and will do what it can to assist."
The Chairman of the Strategy Group is Tony Rowbotham, the Managing Director of Commercial Property Agency, Montagu Evans Channel Islands and the head of the Chamber of Commerce Retail sub-committee. He said:
'"The Group is very positive indeed about retail in Guernsey. The sector has challenges of course, but that's true of retail the world over. There is a great deal about retail in Guernsey - and central St Peter Port in particular - that is very positive, so the Group's approach is based on improving retail for shoppers, retailers themselves and the general Island community."
The strategy, which runs to 70 pages, contains a number of proposals in a variety of different retail-related areas.Mr Rowbotham said:
"There are some important themes that run through the strategy and have informed much of the Group's thinking. These include matters such as supporting town as the Island's main retail centre, the importance of the human interaction as real world retailers look to compete with those online and how the best retail centres offer more than just shopping opportunities. The Group also underlines how important it is for everyone in Guernsey - shoppers, shopkeepers, landlords and Government - to choose to support local retail. We all have a part to play."
Amongst the strategies proposed in the document are the identification of suitable locations in town for additional major retail areas, the creation of a Town Centre Manager role, changes to traffic arrangements in certain parts of town, preparing a new masterplan for the St Sampsons / Bridge area, initiatives to assist retailers with leases for their premises and support for training for their staff which should assist them and their customers.
Mr Rowbotham added:
"One of the things the Group is keen to emphasise is the relative strength of St Peter Port as Guernsey's main retail centre. Compared to many retail centres in the UK for example, the centre of town is doing very well, with just three empty premises in its core retail area, the lowest number for many years. That doesn't mean we're complacent - far from it - but we have identified a danger of people talking down retail in Guernsey, when the reality is much more positive. We're looking to make it better still."