City could have answer to high street demise
Following a month that saw the collapse of Jamie Oliver’s national restaurant empire and the administration of regional café chain Filmore & Union, you begin to wonder how much more our beleaguered High Streets can take.
Indeed, if you look down James Street in my local town Harrogate, you see several empty units previously occupied by fashion brands, restaurant chains and takeaways.
With Marks & Spencer among many household names planning to close branches – Hull’s main M&S store on Whitefriargate shut its doors for the final time last month – what hope is there for retailers and hospitality providers that rely on the footfall from vibrant town and city centres?
Yet Hull may provide part of the solution. The city is currently hosting Humber Business Week and I was among more than 300 business leaders on Monday for our sold-out IoD Humber Luncheon featuring guest speaker Kevin Keegan.
The subject of regional regeneration and place making was never far from the conversation.
Rather than papering over the cracks, Hull is thinking bigger when it comes to driving visitor numbers, bringing together the city’s 800-year seafaring heritage with modern day commerce and culture.
Building on the legacy of its year as UK City of Culture 2017, Hull City Council has applied to the National Lottery Heritage Fund to obtain £15m to progress the Maritime City project that will transform, protect and promote Hull’s maritime assets
With the massive job-creating potential of the Humber’s green energy industry well documented, we could be talking about not one but two game changers for the city and its surrounding area.
Also speaking at this week’s lunch was Jenny Howard-Coombes, executive director and joint chief executive of Hull’s Freedom Festival, the international arts festival that kicks off in August. Jenny spoke about the importance of Hull becoming a magnet city.
By joining together history, culture and industry, there could be a long-term way forward for Hull which, crucially, reduces the city’s overall reliance on retail.
Listening to our brilliant East Yorkshire branch chair Pat Coyle talking with such enthusiasm about the region, and experiencing the positivity of guests in the room, I left feeling confident that Hull can rise to the challenge of creating a destination that appeals to all – residents, visitors and business.
Just like our IoD South Yorkshire branch, IoD East Yorkshire demonstrates localisation at its best and has done for many years now.
We are taking our flagship business event, IoD Open House on the road this year with a date confirmed at The Deep, Hull, on 20 November. Each roadshow will be followed by a Policy Voice round table with our regional ambassador, Rashmi Dube. All IoD members receive complimentary tickets to the Open House events, which take place across the UK.
- Humber business is well represented in the shortlist for the IoD’s Director of the Year Awards for Yorkshire and the North East. There’s still time to book your tickets for the awards dinner on 4 July at the Principal York hotel. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Natalie Sykes, Regional Director, Institute of Directors Yorkshire & North East