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Surviving the High Street panel to be held in Portadown

Cara Taylor, business growth enabler with Ulster Bank.

In 2018, Portadown was crowned Northern Ireland’s Champion High Street of the Year by the Great British High Street. Twelve months on, can the town still claim this title and how are the widely-reported challenges currently facing the retail sector impacting the Co Armagh town?

These questions and many others will be addressed at Ulster Bank’s Surviving the High Street event, which is being held in collaboration with the local Chamber of Commerce, on Thursday, August 29 at Millennium Court Arts Centre in Portadown.

Having already delivered a successful series of the events across Northern Ireland, the Ulster Bank Boost team returns with a panel of experts to address the concerns many high street retailers have about their future.

Along with providing advice to local retailers on issues including rates, online competition and fears about Brexit, the breakfast event will encourage a range of businesses to discuss how they can strengthen their presence online and boost footfall.

Joining the panel discussion at the Portadown event will be Williard De Barber, Ma Berry’s and Owen Williams of Williams Estate Agents, who will be on hand to answer questions and talk about how they have successfully diversified their business and kept abreast of changing consumer trends.

Those looking for more practical help and advice will welcome the opportunity to hear from business leaders Aodhán Connolly of the British Retail Consortium and Glyn Roberts of Retail NI. The two industry groups are working hard to represent their many thousands of members and ensure the interests of local retailers are being listened to by local policy-makers. Together with representatives from the Portadown Chamber of Commerce, they will outline how membership of a leading trade body can be of huge benefit to local business owners.

Finishing off the discussion will be top digital consultant Emma Gribben, who will be on hand to advise attendees how they can create a strong presence for their business online and how to incorporate ecommerce with traditional bricks and mortar retailing.

Event organiser Cara Taylor, business growth enabler with Ulster Bank, is hopeful the event will provide retailers with the resources they need to continue to adapt to changing consumer preferences and perceptions of the high street.

“It is no secret the past 12 months were difficult for many trading on the high street,” said Taylor. “Our local high street retailers are facing increasing pressure as consumer shopping behaviours continue to shift more towards online marketplaces. Yet there are some great examples of businesses that are diversifying their offering and adapting sensibly to this shift in consumer habits.

“Ulster Bank is seeking to equip local retailers with the skills and knowledge they need match these best-in-class examples, attracting local shoppers back into town centres to uncover quality and variety of offering available in towns and cities across Northern Ireland.

“Ulster Bank Boost is one of the many ways we are working to support local business owners and entrepreneurs to start-up and scale-up their business ideas and adapt to the ever-changing face of the high street. We are looking forward to delivering the event in Portadown and thankful for the support given to us the town’s Chamber of Commerce and local retailers.”

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