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‘Phenomenal First Year’ For Town Centre Group Experience Guildford

Published on: 21 Mar, 2014
Updated on: 22 Mar, 2014

By Maria Rayner

Experience Guildford, the body set up to represent the collective interests of the town’s retail and leisure businesses, is celebrating its first birthday.

The Experience Guildford team, from left: Stuart Craggs, Chris Cake , Pete Lambert, Amanda Masters, Chrissy Wilcox and Kirstie Gattner.

The Experience Guildford team, from left: Stuart Craggs, Chris Cake , Pete Lambert, Amanda Masters, Chrissy Wilcox and Kirstie Gattner.

Partly funded by the town traders, the organisation promotes the benefits of shopping and socialising in Guildford, lobbies councils to keep the streets clean and safe and works to up the footfall in the town centre.

Amanda Masters, general manager at Experience Guildford said: “We’ve had a phenomenal first year of operation, with lots of exciting projects still in the pipeline. The Privilege Card [a discount card offering discounts between traders] is to be rolled out to consumers.

“We will continue with our free parking initiatives to drive footfall, plus our new Thank Guildford It’s Friday campaign launched this month in a bid to boost our night time economy.  It’s an exciting year ahead for Experience Guildford, as we deliver a host of projects to raise the profile of the town centre and attract visitors, businesses and investment.”

While the team are confident that media campaigns, free parking initiatives and the Christmas voucher booklet have attracted more shoppers to the town from a wide area, they do not have any evidence that they are solely responsible for the recent influx of up market stores to the lower High Street.

Guildford’s smaller retailers are very grateful for the work of Experience Guildford. Gemma Payne, owner of Little Beau in Tunsgate, was delighted with the Christmas free parking; a Blue Cap (urban ranger) badgered the council to fill in a missing paving stone outside Headmasters hair salon after the manager said customers were tripping over.

Some of the larger retailers have been resistant to the rangers’ approaches, refusing to allow their staff to have a discount card and querying the levy, which pays for the services.

As the year has unfolded, however, the benefits of the collective marketing have been more evident and high profile events like Guildford’s Best Bar None and Customer Service Awards have raised the profile of Experience Guildford among retailers.

What is Experience Guildford?

Experience Guildford is the business improvement district (BID) representing retail and leisure businesses within Guildford town centre. It consists of 589 levy payers who have come together to decide and manage any additional improvements they want to make to the town centre. Working with the towns retail and leisure sector, Experience Guildford has created a cohesive business plan that aims to serve the town across four main project areas: karketing, promotion and events; safe, clean and welcoming; access and car parking; and business support.

Along with the Best Bar None awards, Experience Guildford is working to make Guildford town centre the most successful it can be, and to help town centre businesses thrive.

Click here to see what happened when The Guildford Dragon NEWS shadowed a Blue Cap last year.

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