the Business Forum and
the Economic Partnership
in Brighton & Hove
Homepage    BCRP Intranet    Funding    Events    Knowledgebase    Links    About us     Contact us
Key projects



Workforce development 


Business &

Property &
Development sites




Consultation opportunities

Brighton & Hove Business Forum
8-11 Pavilion Buildings, Brighton, BN1 1EE
Tel: 01273 735442
Email: info@brighton

© Brighton & Hove
Business Forum

News - 5 July 2007

So why does Brighton & Hove need more big shops?

It is no secret that the steadily progressing plans to build a new conference centre could also offer the opportunity to expand Churchill Square right down to the seafront. The following article by the Chief Executive of the Brighton & Hove Economic Partnership was printed in The Argus on Monday 2nd July.

Such an expansion would add hundreds of thousands of square feet of retail space to the existing shopping centre and some of it will be the large units (more than 15,000 square feet) that the city currently lacks.

Such an expansion may also be the only realistic chance the city ever has of getting a new department store. In survey after survey shoppers tell us that they love the city's unique independent retailers, but the Achilles heel is our lack of department stores. People still lament the loss of Hanningtons and Vokins years after they closed.

Some would argue that the wonderful North Laine and The Lanes, and increasingly Kemp Town, amply compensate for the shortage of big shops. Indeed many cities would dearly love to have our vast range of independents, probably the largest in the South East, adding the vibrancy and zest to our city centre that stops us from falling into the "clone town" category so reviled by the popular media.

But we need large shops just as much as the small ones to ensure a rounded offer to a public that is prepared to travel considerable distances to get the experience they want.

Witness the success of Bluewater in Kent, which draws people from a drive-time distance of up to two hours. Witness also the fact that Brighton and Hove is expected to lose two to three per cent of its retail turnover to Crawley if the new John Lewis store opens there.

In cash terms, that could be as much as the entire annual turnover of 150 of our small shops. Other towns closer to Crawley may lose up to 20 per cent. The point is that large retailers, especially of the quality of John Lewis, have large pulling power and Brighton has a shortage of them.

Nearly 200 retail chains would like to get a foothold in Brighton but they can't find suitable space.

Churchill Square has been a stunning success since its refurbishment.

Confidently predicted to attract six million visitors in its first year, it doubled that number and continues to get around 12 million people through its doors every year.

A larger Churchill Square accommodating many of the high street fascias that we currently lack would not only ensure that we maintain our "market share" of shopping trips but also elevate us to the rank of a regional retail centre.

And, contrary to popular belief, many of the visitors to Churchill Square also visit the small shops in the Old Town, ensuring that they too survive and thrive. Brighton has over 1,400 shops in its city centre (not including London Road, Kemp Town and Hove). Towns of similar profile have on average just under 600.

To keep all our shops alive and kicking we need greater numbers of shoppers to visit the city and spend their money than our competitor destinations do.

It's tough running a small shop in Brighton and the fragility of the independent retail sector is exemplified by the high rate of "churn" as units change hands regularly. Cash rich and time poor, the public are getting more demanding and they will often restrict their serious shopping sprees to perhaps three or four big expeditions a year.

We live in an age where it is not uncommon for people to cross the Atlantic to shop in New York.

Consequently, the prospect of a spending 90 minutes in a car travelling from Brighton to Bluewater to spend several hundred pounds in one outing is no barrier. The prospect of 30 minutes up the A23 to Crawley is even less of a barrier.

With a choice of destinations and the ever-growing convenience of the internet, the buying public want an experience that goes beyond simple shopping and they are prepared to pay good money to get it.

This is why it is important that we combine leisure with retail, and I don't just mean ensuring that shoppers have somewhere to get a cup of tea and rest their aching feet.

When visitors get tired of shopping they have two choices - go home or find something else to do.

Consequently, the value of developments like the Brighton Eye and the Black Rock Ice Arena can't be over emphasised as a source of entertainment when shoppers turn their attention to other distractions.

And it isn't just the sexy new visitor attractions that have their part to play. The lower esplanade, the theatres, the cinemas, the Brighton Festival, etc are all vital to complement our fantastic appeal as a great destination to spend time and money.

The city has the potential to more than double its retail turnover to a staggering £2.6 billion if we can find the space to accommodate more of the large High Street names. And before the letters start flooding in to The Argus saying we don't want those High Street names, I can assure the nay sayers that hundreds of thousands of visitors and residents certainly do.

That's why they are prepared to travel to Bluewater and Lakeside.

Money spent in these giant out-oftown shopping complexes is money that could be spent in Brighton and Hove helping to support what is generally considered to be one of our unique selling points - the independent retailers.

They face multiple challenges and need all the help they can get, and increasing the number of people walking past their doors is an excellent start.

That's why we need more big shops.

Read related items on:
Retail, pubs, clubs and restaurants
Brighton & Hove City Council
Brighton & Hove Economic Partnership
Standard Life
Mernagh, Tony

Browse our business Knowledgebase or search by keyword


14 March 2018
Better Business for All Event with BEIS
7 March 2018
Brighton celebrates women in tech as Spring Forward festival returns for a fourth year 6 March 2018
Six months of success for BTN BikeShare 2 March 2018
Sustainability in Action masterclasses for Sussex businesses 2 March 2018
Doing Business in China comes to Brighton 1 March 2018
Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce presents: Protecting your brand- a guide for fast growth businesses 1 March 2018
Long haul passengers boost local economy and jobs, according to new Gatwick report on the 'Visitor Economy' 28 February 2018
Save time reporting crime 27 February 2018
Warren Morgan Resigns from Brighton & Hove City Council 23 February 2018
Brighton Technology Company, Paxton Ranks in Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For 23 February 2018
Greater Brighton's Commercial Property Database 22 February 2018
SE-ASSIST - Launch of Loan Capital in Greater Brighton 19 February 2018
House Price update Q4 2017 19 February 2018
What would you do in a crisis? 19 February 2018
The investment journey for high growth entrepreneurs 9 February 2018
Make Change Count 2018 - helping rough sleepers in Brighton & Hove 8 February 2018
Brighton Technology Company Paxton Announces Recipients of New Scholarship Programmein Association with the University of Brighton 8 February 2018
Cyber London Accelerator Invites Summer 2018 Entries 8 February 2018
Innovate UK Launches Strand 2 Emerging and Enabling Technologies Sector Competition 8 February 2018
Success In Sussex As Food And Drink Heroes Crowned Winners 8 February 2018
UK Games Fund - Fourth Round Open to Applications 8 February 2018
Innovate UK & Prince's Trust Launch Young Innovators' Programme 6 February 2018
Brighton & Hove Food Partnership launches 'Kit Out The Kitchen' crowdfunding campaign 2 February 2018
Brighton & Hove Council and Crest Nicholson win £15m government funding to kickstart King Alfred project 1 February 2018
Could a Utilise Plus Programme grant help you? 1 February 2018
Shoreham Port Facilitates Huge Operation 18 January 2018
IUK Announces Collaborative R&D Funding for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles Simulation 18 January 2018
Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Launches $1 Billion Corporate Venture Capital Fund for Next Generation Mobility 17 January 2018
PORTlife #17 Newsletter Out Now 17 January 2018
Over £19,000 raised for Burning the Clocks 2017 11 January 2018
Brighton Main Line Improvement Project: Planned closures in October 2018 and February 2019 11 January 2018
Come on in! Fairtrade Fortnight 2018 8 January 2018
Sussex Business SkillSnap targets hospitality industry skill shortage 3 January 2018
House Price update 2017 Q3 20 December 2017
£14.35 Million European Regional Development Fund Launched 19 December 2017
Leading the way - Sustainability in Action masterclass 15 December 2017
Brighton is among the best places to start a business due to their strong growth factors 15 December 2017
GTR consultation ends 20th Dec 2017 13 December 2017
Ethical Food StartUp Programme - Idea Generation Workshop 12 December 2017
Utilise Plus launch programme of energy efficiency grants and business support for SMEs