Published on 4th March 2013

shoppers on the Promenade in Cheltenham

Independent retailers in Cheltenham are being helped to drive sales thanks to a new round of free training and support packages.

Retail businesses across the town can get involved in a range of programmes from the National Skills Academy for Retail, designed to improve town centre and high street retail destinations.

The sessions, run by local skills shop Acorn, have been funded as part of the £100,000 High Street Innovation Fund grant secured by Cheltenham Borough Council. The aim is to reinvigorate Cheltenham’s shopping districts and give independent retailers the training and support needed to thrive and grow.

Seventeen businesses and organisations in the Regents Arcade, Beechwood Shopping Centre, Montpellier District and Bath Road are already taking part in the programmes, which include WorldHost Customer Service Excellence – created for the Vancouver Winter Olympics and since used to train tens of thousands of staff and volunteers at the London 2012 Olympics – the Guide to Successful Retailing, and Business Mentoring delivered by retail training experts Grey 4 Gold.

The courses are all part of the NSA for Retail’s Town Centre Improvement Programme, a tried and tested business support and training package to help town centres become more sustainable and successful.

Martin Quantock, Manager of Cheltenham Business Partnership, said more free opportunities are now available to independent retailers.

“We are very pleased with how the training programmes have gone so far and have received excellent feedback from the retailers currently taking part. The programmes started being delivered in September last year and after a break over the busy Christmas and New Year sales period, we are ready to go with a new round.

“We felt it was important to give independent retailers high level training opportunities that they might struggle to fund, removing barriers by making them free of charge and holding them in local venues.

“The quality of training from the NSA for Retail is excellent and can give independents a real competitive advantage. They face extremely tough competition from big brands and online retailers – one thing they can beat them on however is personal interaction and customer service.

“There are a range of retailers from four shopping districts already involved and we would encourage other independents who are interested to contact us as soon as possible.”

Vanessa Hope from the Acorn Skills Shop said: “We have been delighted with the response to the training courses on offer. We are currently half way through the programme and a wide range of businesses have already completed these and started implementing positive changes.

“Cheltenham Business Partnership and the borough council have been very supportive and have worked hard to encourage participation. There is a great mix of retail and hospitality businesses in the area, from flagship stores to high-end fashion shops and wine bars to butchers and bakeries.

“We can see that the independent retailers have very good customer loyalty and people in Cheltenham like to buy locally – these training courses are all helping these businesses to further enhance their customers’ shopping experience.”

For more information on the programmes available to Cheltenham retailers contact 07769 935711 or email Vanessa Hope.

For more information on NSA for Retail products and services visit their website or call 020 7462 5060.