Does a place dictate the customer or vice versa?


Olio Projects focusses on place management and is one of my specialities and passions.

One of my biggest contracts is that of town centre management in Morley, Leeds. A role that has progressed from delivering community events to leading on key initiatives. Morley is a larger than average, northern town with Victorian heritage and a lot to say for itself, and quite rightly so. It has a busy, vibrant events calendar and is awash with community organisations that really make the place tick.

A lot of my time is spent juggling expectations amongst the local traders on the high street and those occupying stalls in the indoor market.

It’s a challenging time to be in retail especially as an independent trader. I have the upmost respect for anyone with the courage to set up shop on their own and then make a go of it.

There’s not a week goes by when I am not informed by local traders that we have too many charity shops, saturated with take aways, no customers.

In all honesty Morley fairs pretty well in comparison to some neighbouring towns. In place management you must consider the bigger picture. Know your demographic and study the shopping trends of your customers. The charity shops and take aways are busy, surely that says something?

All too often I hear that the high street is dead, the town is a ghost town….. I beg to differ. It’s thriving, busy and the destination for many. The many, however, represent the local community, the growing population of elderly residents, the young families on low – average incomes. Our shops and hospitality offerings need to respond to this to drive footfall into their businesses.

Yes we also have the professionals and families with good disposable incomes, or the retired couples with time to browse. But these customers also have choice, and they often choose to visit the city, or shop online.

A lot of my time is informing people what’s on offer from the cafe selling bacon sarnies with a free cuppa, the market butchers, to the gift shop selling high end homeware.

Whether or not people choose to spend their time and money their is up to them. Surely the customer dictates where they shop or dine and not the other way round?

Author: Rachael Kennedy

As a keen ambassador for empowering communities and enabling local business growth, Rachael founded Olio Projects Ltd, delivering first class project management for SMEs, larger corporates and organisations. Rachael's ongoing contracts include Town Centre Management for Morley, working with local businesses and partners to promote the town as a key destination for retail, leisure and culture. More recently, Rachael worked with the Leeds BID team, involved in place management and developing relationships with trade and commerce in Leeds city centre. As a busy mum of two, Rachael is also proud to be the first President of Morley Women's Institute, set up in 2015 to bring exciting new opportunities to the town for women of all ages.

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