Movers and shakers heard about efforts to halt Chester’s decline as a retail centre after learning the city has fallen from fifth to 51st in the UK retail rankings.
More than 300 business people were told about a proposed business improvement district (BID) in the city centre by BID chairman Paul Daniels, who wants to drive footfall and increase profitability.
A BID is a private sector-led, business-funded body created to improve a defined commercial area.
A vote this June will determine whether more than 550 shops and businesses are prepared to pay an annual levy to fund initiatives like a dedicated marketing campaign, more events and making the city ‘cleaner and safer’.
Although ineligible to vote for or against a BID, businesses with a rateable value of less than £18,000 will still benefit from BID initiatives and have the opportunity to contribute to specific campaigns and events or donate help in-kind.
“We need to reverse the current decline,” said Mr Daniels, speaking at the meeting in the cathedral organised by Chester Business Club.
He quoted the latest depressing UK retail rankings showing Chester’s slide from a high of fifth in 2002 to 51st now.
Mr Daniels, founder of local marketing service The Best of Chester, said there were more than 170 BIDs nationally.
And Chester’s competitors like Manchester and Liverpool had set up BIDs, creating pots of money worth £1m per annum to improve their offers.
Cheshire Oaks has its own but similar mechanism.
Mr Daniels said the Chester CH1 BID, which would involve each company paying 1% of their business rate, could generate £2.5m over a five-year period.
Supporters include Primark, Boots, RBS, The Watergate Gallery and Chez Jules.
It was announced that Peter Lewis had been appointed as Chester’s first city centre manager since 2008.