The initiative will reach out to the Canterbury retail community through a series of panel sessions, workshops and community-themed events. Developing a course that is both theoretical based and relevant, and which brings together students and businesses in a mutually beneficial network delivers benefits to all parties.
Businesses can benefit from showcasing their challenges via panel sessions and interactive workshops, and students can find solutions by putting into practice what they learn in lectures. Students will be tasked to address one of the Retail Challenges in conjunction with Canterbury BID, and for their coursework will prepare a report with recommendations. It is anticipated that a summary of the best reports will be presented to businesses, and a series of community-themed events will seek to help facilitate positive changes in the Canterbury Retail environment.
Lisa Carlson, Chief Executive of Canterbury BID said of the initiative: “I think your proposal is fantastic and would be (1) really useful for us and (2) a great link between the city and the University of Kent”.
The first panel session took place in late January 2019, with Lisa Carlson talking about the positive impact the BID has had on Canterbury and how the high street is not dying, just transforming as consumer habits change and businesses need to diversify and join together as a community to compete.
Sandra Heyworth, Sales and Marketing Manager of the Canterbury Cathedral Lodge, uniquely located in the grounds of Canterbury Cathedral, spoke about how the Canterbury hotel market has changed over the last ten years and how demand for rooms has increased. She discussed the greatest challenge is continuing to promote Canterbury as a destination and keep tourists visiting.
Mark Pegg, Head of Business for bespoke shoemakers Loake, described how they have adapted to the demand for online shopping, with a click and collect service. Their business model has adapted to competition by offering a luxury retail experience, rewarding loyalty and a glass of whisky while your shoes are fitted. Overall he felt Canterbury had bright future and acknowledge the positive impact of the Canterbury BID.
Professor Phillips said: “This is just the beginning of an exciting and hopefully rewarding programme that will bring Kent Business School, at the University of Kent, even closer to its local retail community, providing impact beyond the ivory towers of academia through our excellent students, while enhancing the knowledge and employability of those students…watch this space!”
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