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British high streets - the future?

Published: 14th June 2005

THE UNIVERSITY’S Retail Enterprise Network is taking a front bench role in a major government inquiry into the state of the UK high street.

The Parliamentary All Party Small Shops Group has launched an investigation into trends in the UK retail market to answer public concerns about creeping centralisation creating so-called “clone towns”.

High Street Britain 2015 - launched at the House of Commons on June 8, will invite evidence from retailers, consumers, government and enforcement bodies.

Thousands of pages of evidence will be researched, collated and written into a final report for MPs by retail experts at MMU Business School and their partners in the REN, a public-private network of groups who hold a stake in the sector.

Cathy Parker, Director of REN and a principal lecturer at MMU BS said: “We will be requesting written evidence from various stakeholders during June, taking oral evidence during July and will have the final report finished and hopefully published around Autumn time.”

Loss of diversity

Jim Dowd MP, Chair of the All Party Small Shops Group said: “My colleagues and I have become aware of the increasing concerns of our constituents, independent retailers and academics alike regarding the loss of diversity and amenity within the retail sector. Constituents have raised their fears about the breakdown of town and country life of which the retail industry is an integral part. This inquiry will look at the broad spectrum of criteria for a thriving high street and the role this plays in the community.”

He continued: “I am pleased to announce that the Retail Enterprise Network from Manchester Metropolitan University have put their considerable experience in this area at our disposal. REN have a solid reputation in this field and we are confident that their input will ensure that evidence is sifted with the full academic rigour that such an important subject requires.”

Mr Dowd added: “Our final report will provide a view of the state of the UK high street or rural community will look in 2015, if nothing is done.”

The report will make recommendations to the Secretary of State and Director General of the Office of Fair Trading as to how public policy should be developed to the benefit of consumers.

David Smith, Chairman of the Independent Retailers Confederation, said: “Small independents are at the heart of both rural and inner urban life yet face increasing obstacles and reducing margins. Supermarket consolidation, excessive regulation and retail crime are just some of the factors squeezing my members and drawing money and jobs from our communities. It is very reassuring that Parliamentarians are doing all they can to reverse the trend towards cloned high streets.”

For more information about the inquiry or about the Retail Enterprise Network contact Ojay McDonald at MMU Business School on 0161 247 3780 or go to