Mary Portas returns to Rotherham

Published Friday, 11th April 2014
Mary Portas visits Rotherham
Mary Portas visits Rotherham

Two high profile guests will review the transformation of Rotherham Town Centre in a planned visit next week.

On Tuesday (April 15) retail guru Mary Portas returns to Rotherham, along with Brandon Lewis MP, the Government’s Minister for high streets, town centres and markets.

The pair will be in Rotherham to officially open the Makers' Emporium on High Street, see the progress being made through the town’s Portas Pilot project and to meet with some of the retailers who have contributed to Rotherham’s shopping renaissance.

The Makers' Emporium offers low-cost shared and professionally-managed retail space to a mixture of makers, crafters, artists and designers. The project focuses on providing locally-designed and hand-crafted items with an array of pieces available to suit all tastes and budgets.

Initial products for sale include handmade bags and clothing, quality skincare products made from local honey, home-ware, recycled metal art, gifts, and hand-crafted fine silver jewellery.

Funded by the High Street Renewal Award and delivered in partnership between the Council, The Source and Rotherham Youth Enterprise, The Makers' Emporium aims to support new start-businesses looking to trade for the first time, raise awareness of their products and see what it takes to run their own business.

Whilst in Rotherham Mary Portas and the Minister will meet some of the retailers who have launched or expanded their presence within the town centre, and those that have benefited from training funded under the Government’s Portas Pilot scheme.

The past three years have seen encouraging increases in the footfall figures within Rotherham, with an overall 13 per cent uplift in shopper numbers. This has been during a time when many equivalent sized UK towns have seen trade decreasing.

Rotherham has also seen a decrease in empty shops to just 11 per cent and over 85 new businesses have opened in the town centre since 2010.

Surveys of shoppers have shown that the unique, quality shopping offer is finding favour across the area and putting Rotherham town centre firmly on the map. Key findings include:

  • 75 per cent of respondents now state that shopping is the main reason for visiting the town centre – compared to 35 per cent in 2009
  • 35 per cent of shoppers said that the main reason for visiting is that Rotherham has a good range of shops they liked compared to only two per cent who said this in 2009
  • 92 per cent of shoppers are satisfied or very satisfied with the independent shopping offer (compared to 42 per cent in 2009)