Spalding town centre needs to be more like Springfields if it is to attract any of the millions of people who visit the outlet shopping centre each year.
A bold plan outlining how The Springfields Effect could boost business and footfall is about to be delivered by the new town centre manager Dennis Hannant.
In a place where business owners have spent years blaming Springfields for losing trade, the plan is a brave statement by the man brought in to turn things around.
Mr Hannant outlines the charms of the market town and its historic buildings and attractions, as well as acknowledging outside influences such as large shopping centres and internet shopping.
But he slams market place properties with broken windows and in need of refurbishment – and even suggests some shop assistants are in need of retraining.
In comparing the town centre with Springfields, he points out it attracts 2.3 million people a year from surrounding counties and is less than one mile away.
He said: “What is there not to like about Springfields? It has ample affordable parking, it is clean, well laid out, bright, has welcoming shop displays and well-trained staff, and excellent gardens to relax in.”
Springfields shopping centre celebrated its 10th anniversary last year, opening at a time when there were 20 vacant shops in the town, a figure reduced to just two within two years. The opening of M and S Simply Food was a result of the company’s successful trading performance at Springfields.
An independent economic impact study found that Springfields injects around £70 million into the local economy every year.
Ian Sanderson, head of Springfields, said they are now working closer than ever with the town, with a forthcoming joint TV advertising campaign, an initiative to coach visitors in and a linked water taxi/town centre promotion.
Whether the town centre is ready for a new influx of visitors is a question likely to be raised at the town centre manager’s meeting.
Mr Sanderson said: “Springfields and the town need to continue to work together and evolve to keep pace with the demands of the modern consumer and tourist – all of whom expect a faultless experience.”
The open meeting takes place at Broad Street Business Centre on Wednesday, starting at 7pm.