A major exercise to find out more about shopping habits in Marlborough is underway this week.
Volunteers will be counting the number of shoppers in key locations around the town tomorrow (Wednesday).
Meanwhile, residents are being asked to fill in a short, anonymous online questionnaire. The Shoppers Origin Survey poses four simple questions: whether the respondent is male or female, their age, whether they use Marlborough to shop, and what their postcode is.
The answers will help experts determine the geographical reach and appeal of Marlborough as a shopping destination. The survey takes around 30 seconds to complete.
The findings of the surveys - along with inspections of car parks and signage - will feed in to a report, from which a Town Plan will be produced.
Mike King from Towns Alive, who is conducting the exercise on behalf of Marlborough Town Council, said: “The purpose of the exercise is to understand Marlborough town centre and how it is performing, compared to other towns of a similar nature and size.
“We also look at the mix of shops and measure the distribution of comparison and convenience retail. We calculate the percentage of independent, regional and national retailers. And we count the number of vacant business premises.
“These figures are then compared against every other market town in the southwest region.”
Meanwhile, a business confidence survey is being sent to every town centre business, asking owners about turnover, profitability and expectations for the future.
“The resulting report gives you a robust body of evidence, rather than anecdotal evidence, about the impact of car parking tariffs, the absence of signage, a lack of parking spaces, and anything else a town feels is having a negative impact on its economic vitality,” said Mr King.
The formation of the Town Plan is the first step on the road to establishing a Business Improvement District scheme, which would allow the town to establish a fund which would be used to pay for projects that would enhance the economic vitality of the town.
A B.I.D. can only be established in the majority of businesses vote in favour of it. A levy - typically between one and three percent - is added to the business rates, but rather than being given to central government for redistribution - a method that sees market towns like Marlborough receive far less than they put in - the levy is ring fenced and comes straight back to the town.
Members of the B.I.D. then decide how the money is to be spent.
“From Christmas lights, better signage, and street furniture to festivals and advertising and marketing campaigns to promote the town, business communities can really benefit from the establishment of a Business Improvement District,” said Chamber of Commerce president Alex Minoudis.
“The Chamber is fully supportive of this proposal, and we are confident that individual businesses large and small will be in favour.”
The scheme is currently working with great success in Swindon and has recently been adopted by Salisbury. Amesbury, Chippenham, and Trowbridge are all currently in the process of creating B.I.Ds.
To take the Shoppers Origin Survey, log on to http://tiny.cc/marlborough
Last year's Town Hall Christmas lunch, which catered for 64 OAPsOrganisers of Christmas lunches for elderly, vulnerable or homeless people are being urged to contact Waitrose, who are offering funding, goods and support in a bid to tackle isolation this winter.
It is the second year that Waitrose has pledged support for Christmas lunches for the elderly and vulnerable. Its 326 branches will be supporting by volunteering their time and donating money or produce to put towards community Christmas dinner events.
Organisers need to put their names forward before Saturday, October 18 to be considered for assistance.
Waitrose community manager Tina Varns said: “Our branches are at the centre of the communities they serve. We know how important this time of year is to so many people and it is important everyone has the opportunity to enjoy that. We want to play our part in helping more people have a Merry Christmas this year.”
Over the past six years, Waitrose’s green token scheme, Community Matters, has seen £19 million given to 55,000 good causes, while 75,000 working days each years are given to the voluntary sector in staff support.
The meeting room at Marlborough Business HubSole traders and start-ups looking for a place to work or hold meetings in Marlborough now have a new facility at their disposal - the town's only business hub.
Marlborough Business Hub has opened in the offices of KFS Business Solutions in Elcot Mews, just off the A4 London Road and not far from the town's football club.
The 12-desk hub offers workstation hire - with phone, wi-fi and access to a colour printer - by the day or week, and a bookable meeting room with space for up to six delegates, along with a comfy break-out area with sofas.
Businesses can also benefit from networking with other professionals using the space. Accountants, web designers and IT consultants are already based at the hub, and meeting room bookers can also hire the services of a PA and secretary, who is based in the offices.
Karen Shergold, managing director of KFS Business Solutions, identified the need for a business hub after moving into the Elcot Lane business park last year.
"As an accountant I meet a lot of start-ups, especially sole traders," she said. "It became clear that many were homeworkers who did not want the expense of a permanent office, but could benefit from hiring a desk or a meeting room on a casual basis.
“The hub has been developed to meet that need."
Desks for hire at Marlborough Business HubDesks for hire at Marlborough Business HubKaren, who is chapter director of the Marlborough branch of business referrals organisation BNI - which meets on Friday mornings at Ogbourne Downs Golf Club - added: “Using the hub also gives start-ups and sole traders access to a wealth of business advice and support.”
And the opening of the hub has been welcomed by Marlborough Chamber of Commerce. President Alex Minoudis said: “There’s a real need for occasional desk and meeting room hire in Marlborough. This initiative is just what small businesses in Marlborough need.”
Daily hot-desking costs £15 per day, while dedicated desk hire is £60 per week. Meeting room hire is £10 an hour, £15 for two hours, or £55 per day. The hub offers free parking and disabled access and toilet facilities, and is open between 9am and 5pm daily.
Anna Patterson, Matthew Kellow, Fiona Kellow, and Rachel O'SullivanLeading national law firm Thrings has restated its commitment to the people of Marlborough by opening a new office in the heart of the town.
Thrings will extend its near eight-decade association with Marlborough by moving from its current premises at Ailesbury Court near the high street to new, fully refurbished offices at 1 The Green – one of the town’s premier business addresses.
To celebrate the opening of the new premises, business leaders from Marlborough and the surrounding area joined members of the press and Thrings staff at Coles Bar and Restaurant on 10 September.
The decision to remain at the heart of the business community in the town means Thrings’ established client base in Marlborough will continue to receive advice on a full range of private legal services – including wills and inheritance, tax planning and trusts, family and relationships, and residential property and conveyancing – in a modern and spacious office environment.
With increasingly discerning clients seeking an holistic approach to their legal affairs to achieve their specific objectives, Thrings’ Marlborough-based solicitors will also continue to work closely with their colleagues from the firm’s Corporate and Commercial teams in Swindon, Bath, Bristol and London.
Thrings’ offering in Marlborough will be headed by partner Fiona Kellow, who will lead a highly experienced team of lawyers, including family law specialists Matthew Kellow and Anna Patterson, and private property solicitor, Rachel O'Sullivan.
Opening a new office in Marlborough also sees Thrings continue its association with the town which first began almost 80 years ago.
Respected local solicitor Bernard Ford moved to practise law in Marlborough in 1938, where he was joined by his son, Richard, at the newly-created Ford and Ford. Richard, currently a consultant at Thrings, went on to become senior partner at Wood Awdry Ford, which merged with Thring Townsend Lee & Pembertons in 2008.
Fiona Kellow said: “Thrings is a progressive law firm with a strong reputation for providing first-class family and private client services. But with many business people also having personal issues that need advice, we recognise that an holistic approach needs to be taken over clients’ legal affairs.
“The close working relationship between our team of niche family and private client solicitors in Marlborough and their Corporate and Commercial colleagues in our four main UK offices means we are able to continue providing the people of Marlborough with a truly integrated legal service.
“As a firm, Thrings is extremely proud of its 76-year association with Marlborough, its people and its place within the town’s thriving business community.”
Wiltshire Air Ambulance paramedic Steve Riddle with Cumberwell Park Golf Club pro John JacobsA charity golf day in aid of Wiltshire Air Ambulance has been given a major boost by a wealth management company Brewin Dolphin.
Brewin Dolphin’s Marlborough office has announced it will the main sponsor for the fundraising event, which takes place at Cumberwell Park, Bradford on Avon on Friday, September 19.
“With an office in Marlborough, the team at Brewin Dolphin are all acutely aware of the lifesaving work which Wiltshire Air Ambulance undertakes and is keen to protect and support this vital service for our community,” said Brewin Dolphin’s said Oliver Findlay.
“Working with Wiltshire Air Ambulance to support their golf day is a great way for us to do this, as well as help raise awareness of this fantastic cause across the county. We hope the county’s golfers will join together to make the day a great success.”
There are still a few places left for the WAA golf day which costs £240 per team of four (£60 per person), including morning refreshments, 18 holes played Stableford format on the four star green, coaching by a PGA professional, a three-course dinner and evening entertainment by the Will Blake Band as well as a fundraising raffle and auction on the night.
Additional non-playing guests are also welcome to attend in the evening as part of a separate package costing £25 per person.
“With our current partnership with Wiltshire Police coming to an end in December 2014, we will need to increase our income to £2.5 million a year to keep our new helicopter operational, so contributions and support from businesses across the county are increasingly vital,” added Claire Kelly, WAA’s head of events and charity services.
“We are delighted that Brewin Dolphin’s Marlborough office is sponsoring our golf day and we hope that other local firms will follow their lead at a time when we need help in raising funds more than ever to keep the helicopter flying.”
Property experts from Withy KingDevelopers will be able to find out about the impact of the recent planning law changes and the opportunities that have arisen in respect of agricultural land, at a seminar being held by two of Wiltshire’s leading firms of property professionals.
Planning and architectural specialists DPDS Consulting Group and law firm Withy King, which has large commercial property and development team, will be hosting the Marlborough Property Forum at Marlborough Golf Club on Wednesday, September 10 from 12.30pm until 2pm.
The relaxation of planning laws and reduction in red tape has opened doors for developers looking to build on land outside of recognised settlement boundaries or non-allocated sites.
It has also created opportunities for those interested in changing the use of buildings – for example converting offices into housing or redundant agricultural buildings for alternative business purposes.
However, there are still processes and procedures which need to be followed, caveats to be aware of and obstacles which may need to be overcome, which the seminar will highlight.
Brocks' Cirencester outletUpmarket fashion retailer Brocks will be opening in Marlborough’s Hughenden Yard next month, after the premises was let by Kilpatrick & Co.
Brocks – which has outlets in Stow, Cirencester and Bath – will be opening with a new range of autumn clothing from well known brands such as Duchamps, Circle of Gentlemen, COG Women, and Salon des Femmes.
Andrew Kilpatrick of Kilpatrick & Co in Swindon said: “We are delighted to welcome Brocks as we are sure their presence will enhance Hughenden Yard’s reputation as the location in Marlborough for specialist retailers.”
Brocks will join long established Hughenden Yard tenants, such as Vincent Menswear, Sound Knowledge - one of Wiltshire’s last remaining record shops - Azuza coffee shop, ladies’ fashion outlet B & Co, renowned hairdressers Goldsworthy’s, interior designers and handmade kitchen fitting specialists, Moore & Bradfield, and Heart’s Desire, a specialist furniture shop.
Andrew added: “The letting of Unit 11 was going to mean that we had no more shops to offer, but Unit 7 has just become available next to Azuza, offering 500 square feet.”
For further details about this or other lettings please see Kilpatrick & Co’s website at www.kilpatrick-cpc.co.uk or call 01793 643101.
Megan Bowyer (right) and Hannah PakenhamShe was a fourteen year-old Girl Guide at summer camp in Savernake Forest when she first set foot in Beauty-Fulltime. Now Megan Bowyer owns the shop, is its sole manager and employs Hannah Pakenham as her assistant.
Megan has had a long relationship with Beauty-Fulltime even though it started as a part-time relationship. She worked for the owner, Kerry Chambers, in her holidays from college and university.
She left school in 2004, did her A levels in Devizes and then completed a beauty therapy course at Trowbridge College. It was her successes at college that gave her the confidence to go to university.
But before university she worked in a Swindon beauty salon for two years. In summer 2013 she graduated from Bath University with a 2.1 degree in sports therapy – a degree which included a business studies course.
And it was last summer after her graduation, as she applied for and got offered jobs in London, that Kerry Chambers suddenly said to her: “You’d be very good at running this shop, you should think about it.” Megan was shocked – she still refers to it as the moment “Kerry dropped the bomb about selling me the shop.”
New faces outside a familiar shopfrontMegan did think about it and consulted her parents. Then she put away her CVs, got a bank loan and bought Beauty-Fulltime.
Kerry had been running the shop successfully for thirteen years and wanted to spend more time with her husband. But she’s still on the end of the ‘phone with any advice Megan needs.
She calls her shop ‘an Aladdin’s cave’ or ‘a sweet shop for girls’. It is a discount beauty shop selling both premium and high street brands at reduced prices. Megan’s prices run from 40p to £40 – and upwards: “We stock something for everybody.”
Megan is aware that since the recession some people when they come into the shop now spend ‘slightly less’ in total than they used to. But they have not stopped spending: “Many people’s preference for the premium brands is very strong - there’s strong brand loyalty.”
Quite a number of her customers come to Marlborough for the women’s clothes shops, and pop in to see what Megan has for them. But some regulars will ‘phone her up first so she can get in their favourite items.
Megan is trained to give advice on cosmetics and make-up schemes. And it’s quite apparent that her main strength is simply “I know what sells” – whether it’s fragrance, skin care, cosmetics or gift packs.”
One of her first projects has been to give Beauty-Fulltime a good presence on social media – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: “These have already proved popular giving people the latest news on special offers.” Megan has also launched a loyalty card. Looking ahead, she plans a monthly newsletter and wants to host beauty evenings for her customers.
As well as Hannah Pakenham, Megan employs two other assistants at Beauty-Fulltime: Erin Sweeney from Chiseldon and Kerry Hodder who lives in Marlborough. With seven day opening – the shop is open 12.00pm to 4.00pm on Sundays – Megan needs a roster of staff.
This is Hannah’s first fulltime job: “I’m fresh from St John’s up the hill – and I absolutely love the job.” Just a wee word of warning to Megan who was 19 when she first worked in Beauty- Fulltime, Hannah is 19 and has an ambitious gleam in her eye. Who knows what will happen when Hannah reaches the age Megan is now…
MP Claire Perry, recently installed as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Transport, is launching a summer campaign to find Marlborough’s best independent retailer.
The MP this week launched her hunt for the Devizes Constituency Independent Shop of the Year.
She is asking for residents to vote for their favourite indie in one of four categories: Marlborough, Devizes, Tidworth, and Small Town or Village.
The winner of each category will be presented with an award by the Government High Streets Minister, Brandon Lewis, at an event in Devizes in September, where the identity of an overall winner will revealed.
Anyone casting a vote will be in with the chance of winning a £100 voucher to spend with their independent retailer of choice.
Claire said: “There are so many wonderful independent shops in the towns and villages across the Devizes Constituency and I try to support them whenever I can.
“But I wanted to get more recognition for these great local businesses so I am launching a competition to find the best.”
Votes can be cast at http://www.claireperry.org.uk/independent-shops
Landlocked Wiltshire is getting its first branch of nautically-themed women’s fashion retailer Seasalt.
The Penzance-born ethical retailer – the first fashion brand to have clothing certified to Soil Association standards – is opening a branch in Marlborough High Street.
Last year the company, which now has 20 branches across the South West of England, picked up a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the category of sustainable development – becoming the first fashion company ever to win a Queen’s Award.
The brand is known for its nautical-themed skirts and dresses, jackets and coats, sweatshirts and raincoats.
Seasalt is moving into premises vacated by countryside-inspired clothing brand Rowlands, which has been bought out of administration by Scotts of Stow, and is now concentrating on its mail order business.