Costa MD to head high street initiative

Costa Coffee’s managing director Jason Cotta will head a new initiative to revive the UK high street.

Originally reported by British Baker's sister-title, The Grocer, Cotta will head the government’s Future High Street Forum, as part of his position as operations director.

Minutes published by the Forum from 21 January show that Cotta will develop a communications and PR strategy for the Forum and for high streets. This will focus on “bringing together all those with an interest in celebrating successful high streets and town centres”. This will include the development of a 'High Streets' brand, expected for April 2014.

It also revealed that a report had been completed setting out a plan for towns to follow “based on the identified common factors for success”.

Commenting on the appointment, Mike Holling, executive director of the Craft Bakers’ Association, (CBA), said: “It looks like an interesting initiative, and he will be able to see things from the high street retailer’s eyes, which has got to be very positive.”

According to the forum, the role of the group is to better understand the competition faced by town centres across the country, and to drive forward new ideas and policies.

This includes accelerating the programme of local mentoring, established in response to the Portas review, advising the government on building use, increasing footfall and supporting shops. It will also research a “practical toolkit” to help towns future-proof their high streets.

The plans follow the announcement earlier this month that shop vacancy rates fell below 14% for the first time in four years, according to the Local Data Company.

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