New Forest High Streets and Village Centres Conference

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Event details

This conference was held on Wednesday 20 October 2021. 

A recording of the conference is available to watch on YouTube

The purpose of the conference

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic led to a change in shopping habits. Consumers rediscovered their high streets and the advantages of shopping locally. 

There are opportunities for the New Forest's high streets and village centres to benefit from new patterns of living and working and to adapt to meet the needs of customers, but this will require a collective effort to ensure this reinvigoration is sustained. 

This conference brought together businesses and stakeholders from across the district. It provided a toolkit to help drive footfall and encourage shoppers to stay longer and spend more in our town and village centres. 

In advance of the event, Councillor Michael Harris OBE, New Forest District Council, Portfolio Holder for Business, High Streets and Tourism said: 

"New Forest District Council is very pleased to be able to bring together businesses and stakeholders from across the District for the New Forest High Streets and Village Centres Conference. 

This free online conference will be an opportunity to look at how our shopping areas can adapt to meet the changing needs of consumers and to re-imagine and reinvigorate their shopping experience. I encourage retailers and businesses located in the New Forest's high streets and village centres, as well as others with a professional interest in the survival of our shopping areas, to attend this conference." 

Who the conference was for

The conference benefited retailers and businesses located in the New Forest's high streets and village centres. 

It also was of benefit to their support organisations and other stakeholders with a professional interest in the district's shopping areas including district, town and parish councillors. 

Conference content and presentations

Welcome and introduction

Presented by Councillor Michael Harris OBE, New Forest District Council, Portfolio Holder for Business, High Streets and Tourism

Talk 1: The Power of Your Online Shop Window

The pandemic has embedded 'online' deeper into our lives. 

Whilst retailing online might not work for your business, today's marketing plans are increasingly putting digital and social media 'front and centre'.  

Your website or social pages are often a customer's first experience of your brand and the perfect platform for keeping your loyal customers up-to-date with your business. 

It also plays a vital role in driving customers in-store, but also acting as an extension of your brand personality; a shop window where you can reach and engage many more.  

Presented by Richard Nowell, Director, Lighthouse Marketing Ltd. 

Icon for pdf You can view the presentation here. [1.77MB]

Talk 2: The Customer Experience - why face to face will prevail

'In person' business in town centres has never been under greater threat, but there are things that high street businesses can do to improve their image and sales.  

In this session, we will explore why a great customer experience is so important and highlight some actions that all businesses can take. 

Presented by Jim Smith, Customer Experience Director, Surrey and Hampshire, Insight6. 

Icon for pdf You can view the presentation here. [842.02KB]

Talk 3: Silver bullets for small town and village centres

In this session we will explore how high streets and village centres can add to the customer experience by working together to drive footfall and give people a reason to visit. 

Presented by Anthony Climpson OBE, Chief Executive, Go New Forest. 

Icon for pdf You can view the presentation here. [1.91MB]

Talk 4: Planning an event in your high street or village centre

Towns and villages across the New Forest regularly host outdoor events. Whether the event is large or small, for charity or commercial purposes, help and guidance is available to help the organiser plan and manage the event, and to ensure it takes place safely and successfully. This session will outline the key considerations and where you can find information and resources to help. 

Presented by Ben Stockley, New Forest District Council, Food and Safety Team Manager. 

Icon for pdf You can view the presentation here. [144.79KB]

Talk 5: An overview from New Forest District Council

This session will provide a strategic overview of influences and opportunities for the Districts high streets and village centres. 

Presented by Claire Upton Brown, New Forest District Council, Executive Head, Planning, Regeneration and the Economy.

Icon for pdf You can view the presentation here. [60.63KB] 

Questions to panel

Chaired by Claire Upton Brown, New Forest District Council, Executive Head, Planning, Regeneration and the Economy.

Summary and close of conference

Hosted by Councillor Michael Harris OBE, New Forest District Council, Portfolio Holder for Business, High Streets and Tourism

Speaker biographies

Councillor Michael Harris OBE, New Forest District Council, Portfolio Holder for Business, High Streets and Tourism

Councillor Michael Harris OBE is the Portfolio Holder for Business, High Streets and Tourism at New Forest District Council as well as representing Brockenhurst and Forest South East Ward. 

Michael is a business consultant and has advised both high profile individuals and companies involved in the media industries for over thirty years.

Michael was awarded the OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours in 2020.  This was in recognition of his work with Comic Relief where he was a Trustee and the Treasurer for thirty years.

Richard Nowell, Director, Lighthouse Marketing Ltd

Richard started out life in consumer PR, then spending a decade in sports marketing and working with clients such as Vodafone, Aviva, Samsung and Diageo on various UK and global campaigns.

He then held senior roles with brand experience and integrated marketing agencies on behalf clients that included Molson Coors, Virgin Media and Arla Foods.

Since moving to Lymington seven years ago, he set up Lighthouse Marketing working with a range of local and regional clients on numerous projects that increasingly put social and digital at the heart of communications.

Lighthouse has also founded two leading festivals, Dogstival and the Lymington Seafood Festival.

Lighthouse was runner up in the NFBP's 2018 Brilliance in Business Awards and 2019 Winner of NFBP's 'Benefiting the Visitor Economy'. 

Jim Smith, Customer Experience Director, Surrey and Hampshire, Insight6

Jim Smith, Customer Experience Director, Hampshire has run the Hampshire franchise of insight6 for 11 years. 

insight6 are specialists in measuring, tracking and improving customer experience for companies across the UK and Eire. 

He has worked on over 20 Town Centre visitor experience projects in the South East, including a number in the New Forest, so is uniquely positioned to talk about what affects local businesses. 

He has a Masters Degree in Business Administration.

Anthony Climpson OBE, Chief Executive, Go New Forest

Anthony established Dorset's tourism service before leading New Forest District Council's Tourism and Employment team for 30 years and creating Go New Forest in 2017.

He is author of the VERB destination management model and the Economics of Visitor Happiness.

Anthony was awarded Government Beacon Status for sustainable tourism, OBE for services to tourism, winner of 2 World Responsible Tourism awards and is "totally focused on local resilience and social inclusion, "good" tourism and embedding that all into the wider local economy and world at large wherever possible".

Ben Stockley, New Forest District Council, Team Manager, Food Safety, Environment and Regulation

Ben is a qualified Environmental Health Officer, with almost 20 years' experience in advising businesses and enforcing health and safety requirements.

Much of that time he has worked locally in the New Forest.

Along with other professional colleagues from New Forest District Council, he provides advice to event organisers as part of the 'safety advisory group' to ensure that events pass off safely and successfully. 

Claire Upton Brown, New Forest District Council, Executive Head, Planning, Regeneration and the Economy 

Claire has been the Chief Planning Officer and Executive Head, Planning, Regeneration and the Economy at New Forest District Council since February 2019.

Prior to this she was Assistant Director of Culture and City Development at Portsmouth City Council.

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