Town Team initiative brings the pink pig back to Banbury town centre

Pink PigA popular Banbury vinyl records business is back in the town centre, five years since it left. Thanks to an initiative by the Banbury town team, Record Savings (AKA Pink Pig) has taken on a unit in Church Lane to sell its mix of vinyl, cds, posters and gifts.

Part of the role of Banbury’s town team co-ordinators, Neil Wild and Iain Nicholson, is to encourage inward investment and work with landlords and agents to reduce the number of empty units in the town centre. One option for them was to use a version of the popular pop-up shop model, which allows businesses to come in on a short term licence so that they can test the market before deciding on a longer term stay.

Agreement was reached on a six-month let for one of the two former So Nails… shops on Church Lane and Record Savings (@pinkpigbanbury) opened there this week. Owner Paul Wylie says: “Record Savings set up in White Lion Walk in the 80’s and later moved to larger premises on Church Lane. We closed that in 2009 and have since operated the business online. This is a great opportunity for us to re-establish ourselves in Banbury, and gain confidence in town centre trade. We hope to take a larger unit after this run.”

Neil Wild says: “This is a very encouraging let for a number of reasons. It means a return to the town centre for a much-loved business, and we’ve already seen the news generating excitement in social media. It’s good in terms of the wider high streets revival agenda to see a type of business that many said was gone for good giving town centre trading another go in Banbury. And it shows that the short term let model that allows businesses to test the market is a valuable tool for us in town centre vitality work. In this instance I’d also like to thank local agent, Brown & Co for their support.”

The unit was one of the 53 town centre ground floor retail and hospitality units listed as empty and available when the town team compiled an audit as part of their role in May this year. The figure now stands at 40 – a reduction of almost 25% with expressions of interest having been registered on a number of other town centre properties.

Cherwell District Council appointed the two town team co-ordinators in April to drive a project, which is focusing on boosting footfall, working with landlords and agents to reduce the number of empty town centre shops, and exploring opportunities to bring the pop up and community shop concepts to Banbury. Neil Wild and Iain Nicholson were appointed on a 12-month, part time contract, to lead the project and work with existing town centre partners including the Old Town Association, the Chamber of Commerce, Castle Quay, the Town Council, the markets operator, existing businesses and other town centre stakeholders. Their brief also includes identifying any gaps in the town’s retail and leisure offer, promoting Banbury to would-be new town centre businesses, and helping to develop initiatives that reduce the “leakage” of spending power that Banbury experiences by people in the town and village hinterland shopping elsewhere.

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