Dressed for Success

Around 30 independent retailers across Brighton & Hove are receiving expert advice on how to make the most of their window displays, as part of a package of support for small businesses from Brighton & Hove City Council in the run up to Christmas.

Traders taking part in the council's ‘Dressed for Success’ scheme receive one-to-one tuition from a visual merchandising specialist, aimed at helping them to attract more customers and boost sales.

From December 4 shoppers can follow a trail of participating shops around the city and vote for their favourite Christmas window display via the  council’s Facebook page (See website for more information www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/dressedforsuccess). Voting closes at noon on December 23 and awards for the most popular displays will be presented in January.

The Dressed for Success scheme is now in its fourth year, with more than 130 independent retailers taking part since it was first launched by the council.

Retailers from Portslade to Kemp Town are taking part in this year's scheme, selling everything from food, fashion and flowers to toys, gifts, homewares and wine.Tuition is provided by independent retail trainers, Metamorphosis, on behalf of the council.

Councillor Geoffrey Bowden, chair of the city council’s Economic Development and Culture committee, said: “Brighton & Hove is renowned for its fantastic selection of independent shops and it is one of the attractions of shopping in the city. However, independent retailers usually don’t have the access to window dressing specialists that the big chain stores do, and that’s where the Dressed for Success scheme comes in – providing expert tips and advice to create fantastic eyecatching displays at Christmas and during the rest of the year as well."

He added: "The council is committed to helping our local retailers survive and thrive and Dressed for Success is one of a number of ways in which we support small businesses throughout the year."

Other support for small businesses retailers includes highlighting the wealth of independent shopping available as part of Small Business Saturday on December 6; Ride the Wave business worskshops; and free parking in some council car parks on four days in December. (See notes to editors)

Sage & Relish Mediterranean food store in Western Road, Hove, is one of those taking part in this year’s Dressed for Success scheme. Angeliki Zafeiropoulou, who runs the shop with her partner Stefanos Lianakis, said: “We are a new business so it is brilliant to get some expert advice, at the moment we would not have had the time or funds to arrange it for ourselves.”
Thousands of votes were cast across a range of different categories in last year's competition, with positive feedback from participants taking part.

David Carmichael and Marco Wren of The Specky Wren opticians were among the winners last year. The opticians, based in Marshalls Row at the entrance to the newly restored Open Market in London Road, opened shortly before taking part in Dressed for Success and the competition helped to put it well and truly on the map. Since then they have gone on to feature more creative window displays – including a colourful summer design featuring origami flowers.

David said: “It was a great experience for us, we have a double fronted shop window and the tuition opened up our eyes to what was possible. The window has become a major focus for us now, it has got us thinking more creatively, and lots of people comment on our displays.”

Edited in Gardner Street in the North Laine was a winner in 2012. Robin Johnson, who runs the gifts, interiors and homewares shop with Alexx McKendry, said: “Taking part in Dressed for Success was really helpful for us, we hadn’t been open long and we got lots of tips and advice on visual merchandising – it was also a lot of fun.

“Without a doubt it has helped to bring in more customers, we put a lot of effort into our window display and change it regularly, it is the best way of showcasing our products and it is our ‘hello’ to customers and people passing by.”

Notes to editors:
Voting for the Dressed for Success window displays will open on December 4 and run until  noon on December 23.
People can vote by ‘liking’ photos of the shop windows on Facebook, they can choose their favourites in a variety of categories - including Overall Best Dressed Window, Most Theatrical, and Cleverest Concept - using an online voting form, and a trail map will be available online to encourage people to visit the shops in person www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/dressedforsuccess

Other support for independent retailers in the city from the council and other partners includes:

Small Business Saturday (Dec 6)
The city council together with other business support organisations across the city is actively supporting Small Business Saturday on Saturday December 6. Maps will be given out at Brighton, Hove and Portslade stations to people arriving by train, promoting the independent retail areas, art installations and other activities going on during the day.

Ride The Wave
A  business support programme providing local business people with free training, practical advice, and workshops to help them grow and create more jobs is being held from late November to March. Ride the Wave is funded and led by the council, and Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce who deliver the programme. www.businessinbrighton.org.uk/ridethewave

Free parking
Free parking will be available in five council car parks Trafalgar Street, High Street, Regency Square, London Road, and Norton Road on Saturday December 6 and Sundays December 7, 14 and 21.

Roadworks suspended
All major roadworks in busy shopping areas will be suspended or scaled down from December 1 to January 2. 

Other initiatives:

A range of creative pop-ups have opened in the city over the last year to put empty shops to good use, in a drive led by the council in partnership with an organisation called We Are Pop Up. http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/pop-scheme-gives-creative-new-lease-life-empty-shops

London Road regeneration
Regeneration work in the London Road area is helping retailers in that part of the city. Work to improve and enhance the area includes the restoration of the Open Market, the Portas pilot in London Road, restoration of The Level, and the creation of a ‘pocket park’ in Ann Street and improvements to Providence Place. 

Further information:
Brighton & Hove City Council press office 01273 291035/293033