Ulster University

Big Talk On The High Street

Leading retail experts will discuss the future of the High Street at an event hosted by University of Ulster academic Dr Karise Hutchinson tomorrow (Thursday).

Turning empty space into a new place by moving towards a shared future for the high street will be one of the topics debated at The MAC, Belfast, at 10am.

Dr Hutchinson has organised the event in her role as chair of the British Academy of Management Marketing and Retail Group alongside her PhD student Lisa Donnell who is studying the changing role of the high street.

Andy Godfrey Public Policy Manager for Boots UK will be keynote speaker at ‘The Future of the High Street: The Big Conversation’.

Dr Hutchinson said: “We believe that the future of the high street and the debate that surrounds it extends beyond retailers to include significant policy and practitioner input. This is one of the main reasons for holding the big conversation. In adopting an approach of linking people and place, our research will incorporate not only policy, but also provider and user perspectives to form a long-term outlook on the structural changes of high street space.

“This is not a typical event where there is a one way flow of information, but rather this an interactive conversation event around the recent call for retail research by the government’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and will include insight from a number of key perspectives around the future high street agenda.”

Lisa Donnell added: “We are delighted to have Andy Godfrey speaking at the event. He chairs the Local Government Advisory Group at the British Retail Consortium accountable for delivering the sector’s response to local government on local business engagement, high street and business Improvement districts.”

The big conversation will also involve Sharon Scott Association of Town and City Management NI Advisor and Dr Hutchinson, Head of Business and Enterprise at the University’s Ulster Business School. Jill O’Neill will also make a presentation at the event. Jill is the founder of creative up-cycling concept retailer, ReFound, based in Belfast and early adopter of the 'pop-up' shop phenomenon.

The event will conclude with a question and answer session to explore the key issues emerging from this conversation in order to develop a future research agenda around the retail sector and the high street.

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