- Savethehighstreet.org to launch this evening
- Organisation aims to provide retailers with tech advice and strategies
- Comes as high streets across the UK continue to suffer amid tough trading conditions
- BHS, Austin Reed and My Local have all slumped into administration this year
A new organisation will launch today in a bid to breathe new life into UK high streets as they grapple with turbulent trading conditions.
Savethehighstreet.org aims to revive high street locations by empowering local shopkeepers with technology tools and skills that could give their sales a shot in the arm.
The group, which has been set up by organisations including the Future High Streets Forum, Tech City UK and Google Digital Garage as well as retailers, will unveil its 10-point “high street manifesto” at an event in central London this evening.
Savethehighstreet.org wants to sign up 125,000 businesses to the scheme during the next year and will provide advice on the best technology and strategies to help retailers adjust to the “era of the connected digital high street”.
It will be primarily aimed at smaller retailers, helping them to improve online sales and offering them educational seminars.
The move comes amid tough trading on the high street, which has seen BHS, Austin Reed and My Local all collapse into administration since the turn of the year, while retailers such as Beales and Store Twenty One have been forced to launch company voluntary arrangements (CVAs) to slash rental payments.
Smaller retailers are also suffering and it is estimated that 45,000 shops in total closed last year as the tussle for trade intensifies.
Industry body the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has already warned that more shops will close during the next decade as businesses struggle to pay higher wage bills, rental payments and business rates.
“High streets must change to remain relevant in the internet age but most [retailers] don’t know how to and need a lot of help”
James Roper, IMRG
The BRC estimates that one million jobs could be lost over that 10-year period, with the North of England, the Midlands and Wales expected to be impacted most.
Savethehighstreet.org has been canvassing shop owners across London to raise awareness of the scheme as it bids to keep more shops open and thriving.
IMRG chairman and founder James Roper said: “High streets must change to remain relevant in the internet age but most [retailers] don’t know how to and need a lot of help.
“I am pleased to see Savethehighstreet.org arriving to bring a centralised, substantial solution that can directly enable all local retailers to fully engage in the digital economy.”
Google UK and Ireland boss Eileen Naughton added: “In the digital age, a basic understanding of how the online world works is useful and, when it comes to business, it’s essential.
“We are welcoming people to seminars delivered by Google’s Digital Garage experts, to learn more about how digital can help them grow.”