Derby’s Cathedral Quarter has recently celebrated its fourth anniversary as a Business Improvement District (BID).
The area is currently finalising its priority plans for the coming year and looking forward to a re-ballot of the businesses in February 2013 who will decide whether to continue as a BID for a further five years.
The Cathedral Quarter incorporates more 380 businesses in an area bounded by the inner ring road, the River Derwent, Albert Street, Victoria Street and Friar Gate who pay a levy based on their rateable value into the BID and which amounts to around £180,000 a year which also enables additional funds and value in kind to be used to deliver projects based on the business plan. .
The Cathedral Quarter Company was set up as a not for profit company in February 2008 to boost the performance and profitability of businesses in the area through the agreed projects which are also prioritised by the businesses each year.
Strategic direction is determined by the Board and the activities are driven forward by a management group and then five working groups – all made up of representatives from local businesses who volunteer their time – who work on activities under the five priorities of increasing awareness, improving access, extending length of stay, improving the sense of welcome, safety and security in the area and increasing inward investment.
The Cathedral Quarter is now an established brand and is actively targeting the city’s broadening catchment area. Derby has the highest average salary in the UK outside London and a higher than average wealthy catchment area.
CACI research also highlights that the Cathedral Quarter has the largest proportion of premium brand retailers in the city and there has been a net gain of 26 businesses in the area in the past year.
Key successes in the past year have included:
- The CQ website www.derbycathedralquarter.co.uk has been re-designed – making it more user friendly and giving businesses far more options to update their profiles.
- Three editions of CQ Life were produced including the largest ever edition in Christmas 2011 when28,500 copies of the 20 page magazine were distributed to CQ loyalty card holders, as an insert in Derbyshire Life & Countryside and to Derbyshire County Cricket Club and QUAD members
- An average of £7,000 a month (advertising equivalent value) of free editorial coverage has been generated by the BID with the local media
- A week long radio and on-line promotion was organised with regional radio stations GEM 206 – reaching thousands of people across the East Midlands every day
- A 36 page feature was negotiated with the Derbyshire magazine with reduced advertising rates for local businesses
Extending Length of Stay
- Highlights in the events calendar have included the return of the giant observation wheel and the CQ Derby Feste Splash event at Blacksmith Yard part of Derby Feste – both of which boosted footfall in the area significantly
- Audio tours, which can be downloaded from the website and from i-tags on the new wayfinding signs in the area have been developed by the BID and created by CQ business Word of Mouth in Friar Gate Studios
- Christmas events and promotions included the Santa in Sadler Gate activity including a Dickensian Christmas grotto, live music and stalls; and sponsorship and joint promotion of the ice rink
- New Christmas lights were erected in the Cornmarket, St James Street and trees in the Wardwick adding to the already classic high quality lights erected the year before in Iron Gate, the Strand and Sadler Gate.
- The BID has worked closely with Derby City Council on the Wayfinding strategy with signage throughout the area reflecting the CQ branding
- Cathedral Quarter logos have been added to the 120 existing and new light-weight pavement planters – encouraging movement of footfall through the area
- Specially-designed badges have been erected on buildings at key points in the Cathedral Quarter – heralding a sense of arrival
- The Cathedral Quarter teamed up with Parksafe to introduce a new smart card with discounts on parking in addition to the benefits of ‘I Love the Cathedral Quarter’ loyalty card.
- A campaign by the BID and local businesses led to a re-think on changes to the city centre road layout in Cheapside, Bold Lane and St Mary’s Gate.
Welcoming Safe & Secure
- The Ranger team continues to be a strong presence in the area – working closely with businesses and partners to quickly report and deal with problems and welcoming visitors to the area
- Special activities have included the involvement in a Street Pride event in the Market Place to raise awareness of environmental issues in the city centre
- The Rangers were heavily involved in the pilot monthly tours in partnership with Derby Cathedral and the Museum and Art Gallery
- Major events in the Cathedral Quarter ranging from the Duck Race to Festé have been supported with marketing and ambassadorial support by the Rangers
- A campaign has also be launched to expand this work with volunteer rangers to support ambassadorial duties and conduct tours
- There has been a net increase in the Cathedral Quarter of 26 businesses in the past year
- The Cathedral Quarter had a high profile at the Derby Property and Business Show – launching a new investment brochure and specially commissioned DVD to companies who were looking to invest in the city
Martin Langsdale, Chair of the Cathedral Quarter Management Group explained: “Our vision when setting up the BID was to establish the Cathedral Quarter as a destination which offers specialist quality retail, a diverse range of quality leisure and cultural activity and established respected professional services in an attractive historical setting.
“We have achieved a great deal in the past four years and, despite having to be prudent in our financial management, we have ensured that investment in projects have reaped maximum rewards for the Cathedral Quarter and the businesses who operate here.
“Outline plans for 2012 have been discussed with the businesses and work is now starting to draw these up in more detail and make them a reality.”
Martin continued that, although the Cathedral Quarter has experienced empty premises with businesses closing, there was a net gain of 26 businesses in the area.
“The combination of falling vacancies and rising footfall figures has been particularly welcome news for the Cathedral Quarter.
“This is despite the economic situation which has obviously impacted greatly on the retail sector and the floor space limitations of the older historic properties that are available in the Cathedral Quarter.
“Another positive factor has been calibre of the new businesses that have been attracted into the Cathedral Quarter in the past year alone. This continues to ensure that we are not a faceless high street and have contributed to the individual, diverse and inspiring qualities of the area.
“It is however important that we step up this proactive marketing activity. We have already established that the Cathedral Quarter is about quality but we need to tempt more quality businesses to the area. In turn this will increase quality consumers who will attract more businesses and so on.
“Times continue to be tough for businesses in this economic climate but most agree that they would be suffering even more if we had not gone ahead with the BID and that they are by and large benefiting from the increased profile that the Cathedral Quarter now has.
“Our brand values sum up the special qualities of the Cathedral Quarter: individual, inspiring and diverse – a place with soul.
“Cathedral Quarter businesses are largely independently owned who put customer service at the top of the agenda. Improvements to the area therefore benefit not only the businesses themselves but also the people who visit this area.”
For more information about the businesses and events in the Cathedral Quarter visit www.derbycathedralquarter.co.uk
Please call us on: 01332 515102