Portas Review prompts mixed response and call for action

16 December, 2011
Page 4 

The long-awaited Mary Portas review into the state of the high street has been welcomed by bakers who have now called for the words to be put into action.

In her report, published this week, Portas reiterated claims that the rise of supermarkets had helped to put high street bakeries into decline and she declared the high street was in a critical condition. The Portas Review reprinted figures from the 2008 Competition Commission, which found that the number of bakeries had declined from around 25,000 in 1950 to around 8,000 by 2000.

In stark terms, Portas warned: "The days of a high street populated by independent butchers, bakers and candlestick-makers are except in the most exceptional circumstances over."

She added: "Although some high streets are thriving, most have a fight on their hands. Many are sickly, others are on the critical list and some are now dead. We cannot and should not attempt to save every high street, but unless urgent action is taken, the casualties will only continue to multiply."

Mike Holling, retail operations director of Birds of Derby and chairman of the National Association of Master Bakers, said: "We did not need Mary Portas to tell us about the state of the high street. I just hope that her recommendations are taken onboard. We need the words to be put into action."

The report, was published alongside new government-commissioned research, 'Understan-ding High Street Performance', found that a third of all high streets are failing and that, by 2014, less than 40% of retail spending will be done there.The Portas Review outlined a number of recommendations, including:

l A call for councils to offer more free parking

l An easing of night-time delivery restrictions

l New penalties for landlords with empty units

l New planning laws to encourage town centre development

l The creation of new town-centre markets.

In response to the report, Prime Minister David Cameron said: "The high street should be at the very heart of every community. I am delighted Mary Portas has produced such a clear vision of how we can breathe life back into our high streets. The government will review Mary's recommendations and will publish its response next spring."

l To read the report in full, visit: http://tinyurl.com/d6qa7oq or join us on Twitter to discuss the report: @BritishBaker #PortasReview


OW PORTAS' REVIEW WAS DISCUSSED ON TWITTER

Satterthwaites artisan bakery
@Satterthwaites
Portas wants high street markets. Would Sainsbury's agree to a covered market arcade along Moor Lane for the #satbaker?

David Walpole
@WAP1941
Supermarkets are the curse of the high street. Where are butchers and bakers and CSMs? Free parking versus charged on the high street.
Stephen Cooles
@Fubsy
I shop at local bakers (quality better, prices good), local greengrocer and high street butcher. Good prices and supporting local.

Andrew Simms
@AndrewSimms_nef
#Portas on revitalising high sts is not bad places to live, not just shops just need a 'Supermarket Restraining Order' to let it breathe.


WHAT THE BAKERS SAY

Tom Molnar, chief executive, Bread Ltd, which includes the Gail's estate of retail shops, said: "Her approach to learn from the high street's competitors rather than to demonise them is good, as it encourages action, rather than malaise. I also support her belief that there are some key areas where small companies can compete service, specialism and experience. Value is not just about price."

Christopher Freeman, proprietor, Dunns' of Crouch End, said: "I wouldn't suggest bringing markets into areas where they haven't been before as it may threaten the shops already there, especially if they sell food. But markets should be supported in areas where they already work well."

Clive Williams, president of the NAMB, said: "Our bakery is located in a town which has a 'Business Improvement District' team, where local shopkeepers and the council get together to discuss what's best for the high street and that seems to work very well."

Anthony Kindred, owner of Kindred Bakery, said: "I'm thinking of pulling out of the high street and moving into a unit that's much cheaper to run. That said, my reputation locally does come from the shop in the high street.
"Aspects of this report could work quite well, such as free car parking and the empty space initiative. But this could mean more competition and put high street bakery businesses in jeopardy."





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