Meeting was attended by about 40 members and local residents.
The theme of the evening was “retailing in Havant
town centre” and speakers included Rob Fryer the manager of the Meridian Centre and Tony Probert the manager of Waitrose Havant
Rob Fryer the manager of the Meridian Centre- KEY POINTS
1. Havant thrives because of its good travel links but struggles to attract footfall across Park Road South.
2. However footfall in the centre has been increased thanks to PoundWorld which is very popular.
3. Units on the first floor are much more difficult to let.
4. Late night opening has been tried but that has failed largely because Havant shuts up shop at 5:30 and there is no night time economy. It would require a bowling alley or cinema in the centre to initiate growth.
5. There is general agreement that signage from the A27 needs improving. This could include the street markets which
provide the greatest footfall of the week on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
6. Online shopping is a threat to all retailers many of whom are now looking for much smaller units and start up support.
7. The migration of footfall to the new western developments is also driven by free parking which cannot be supplied by the centre.
8. 80,000 ft.2 of new retail space opposite Tesco’s will provide more competition for the Meridian Centre.
Questions were were raised on subjects raising from pop-up shops to the likelihood of a gym opening up on the first-floor and Rob was thanked for the help and support that he has given to charities and community during his tenure.
Tony Probert the manager of Waitrose Havant – KEY POINTS
Waitrose has been a grocer in Havant for the last 35 years and in common with all food retailers faces a number of issues during a tough trading environment as indicated by:
1. Deflation caused by competition from discounters and the falling commodity prices
2. Online sales show a 40% increase year-on-year
3. Convenience stores-residents are shopping more frequently consequently more small convenience stores are opening than large ones. One positive result is that consumers are wasting less produce.
4. Incentivisation in the form of functions, loyalty cards and free offers are becoming the norm
5. People are eating out more frequently resulting in growth in coffee shops
6. Lunchtime trade has been badly affected by the new restaurant opening in Langstone
7. Waitrose’s greatest assets are its staff many of whom are long serving, and without whom 15,000 customer till transactions a week would not be possible..
8. The store sees itself as part of the community and works hard to support it.
QUESTIONS were raised ranging from the pace at the checkouts to the reason for not expanding into the old Post
Office. All were answered fully and directly.
Rob and Tony stayed to answer any questions until the end of the meeting and
were each presented with a small gift from the society in appreciation of their support.
Helen and Tim gave an update on plans for the refurbishment of the Gazebo Garden and the society’s role in ongoing maintenance.
It was announced that Bill Woods would be stepping down from the committee after two and a half years as chairman. This was due to family, health and workload issues. Bill praised the committee for each playing a role in the scrutiny of new planning. Bill suggested that the committee be enlarged by two members in order to continue to run effectively.