Luton Business Improvement District’s (BID) new project manager says strong partnership working and staying ahead of fast-changing consumer behaviour will be her focus as the town centre emerges and recovers from lockdown.
Highly experienced retailer and former Debenhams manager, Julia Horsman, has been appointed by Luton BID’s management consultants – Partnerships for Better Business Ltd (pfbb UK) – to deliver engaging projects, events and activities as part of the BID’s continued five-year business plan.
She believes there is growing potential, resilience and optimism among town centre businesses, and that harnessing the power of collaboration as the landscape changes will attract even more workers, visitors and shoppers into the area.
“The BID has built a very solid reputation in the town centre and there is a wonderful sense of variety and community, with all the different businesses clearly wanting the same thing. This brings us masses of opportunity – it’s a truly exciting time to take up this role,” explains Julia, who has worked in retail management UK-wide for many years, most recently overseeing the Bedford and Luton Debenhams stores before they closed.
“I feel like I have been building up to this role my entire working career. I have also worked in towns where there has been no BID presence, so I know how challenging it is for businesses that don’t have this additional support. We are lucky this is not the case in Luton.”
Luton town centre has already been ranked in the top 10 UK retail recoveries, and Julia strongly believes this can be sustained across all local sectors – professional services, leisure and hospitality too.
“We just need to make sure we stay ahead of the game as buying habits shift,” she added. “I will be listening and working with key partners like the council, police, cultural organisations and of course BID businesses to make sure we continue to invest our pot of money in projects that are important to them so that we further promote and improve our town centre. My first exciting project will be to maximise the BID’s sponsorship of the upcoming family art display – The Big Trunk Trail.”
Gavin O’Brien, Luton BID Chair and co-director of town centre-based business Clearhead said: “Our BID board share excitement in welcoming Julia to the team – we’re confident she will bring lots of passion and enthusiasm to the role. We would also like to thank our former BID project manager, Fergus McLardy, for his support and contribution over the last five years and wish him all the best in his new position at Luton Council.”
In 2019 businesses voted in favour of renewing Luton BID for a second term until 2024, which means they pay an annual levy towards the delivery of BID events, initiatives and projects.
For more Luton BID news click HERE.