Key to regeneration and enterprise?

Good Morning Folks!

This is Ben here, Live blogging on behalf of Cathy at the New Statesman Fringe event for the Labour Party Conference.

First of all may I admit that the daunting prospect of a Monday morning Live-blogging task has been made easier by the good people in Starbucks (St. Anne’s Square) by providing possibly the two most dangerous words for me; Free & Pastries… Crumbs aside, I’ll endeavour to get your up to speed as and when the event kicks off.

If you want to keep up in real-time, you can merely refresh this image and the Internet faeries will do the rest.

If you have any questions for the panel please fire them over to me by


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Here’s the details folks;

Big brands: Key to regeneration and enterprise?
Starbucks & New Statesman Fringe Meeting at Labour Party Conference

And on the Panel we have;

Stephen Timms MP, Shadow Financial Secretary to the Treasury
The Rt Hon Stephen Timms is currently the Member of Parliament for East Ham.

Professor Cathy Parker, Professor of Retail and Marketing Enterprise, Manchester Metropolitan

Chris Ward, author ‘Coffice’

Susan Hinchcliffe, Regeneration and Partnerships Manager, Business in the Community

Chris Fletcher, Deputy Chief Executive, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce

Alex Preston, New Statesman columnist (chair)

Looks like things may be moving soon, so I’ll get settled and get blogging 🙂


Fire safety et al and we have kicked off, Spencer Neil (who incidentally, has misplaced his Yellow Notebook) introduces the panel. The danish pastries are going down a treat with what looks to be a room full of journo’s.

Cathy is Introduced as the ‘brightest of all of us’ which may not be far of from the truth at this time of the morning.

Steven Timms MP gets us underway with his take on branding with a quick pop quiz. “What is the oldest packaged brand, which is still available in the same packaging today”..Answers on a postcard to…(It is Tate and Lyle’s Golden Syrup)

After a resume of branding strategy and Steven’s ideas on the future, involving communities. He draws upon his experience in his constituency, East Ham where Primark moved in and he thinks added not only to the High St., but aided the community too (not sure Cathy wil agree with that last point).

Mr. Miliband gets his first mention of the morning as the new Labour Party leader will have to consider current partnerships with business and the wider community.

Next up is Susan Hinchcliffe from Business in the Community who tags onto the Rt. Hon Gentlemans brand quiz by adding that the brand in question hosts a number of social enterprises in its sugar refinery.  

Interesting point from Susan, in that big businesses don’t like to be the only player on the high st. and welcome competition from the independent retail sector. Susan refers to our own IPM members indirectly by asserting that Town Centre Managers struggle to engage with the big brands that straddle our high st.


And Cathy is up, kicking off with a reference to the High St Britain report.

Cathy talks about her interest and desire for proper place management on the high street and how successful tales towns up and down the country often have an existing board/initiative in place between the big brands, the independent operators  and the town’s top brass to manage these places.  Alex Preston is up next.

Alex touches upon the difficult issue of financing, comparing the borrowing power of  Diageo et al with the less favourable rates the government can borrow at.   After a brief introduction the final member of the panel Chris Wood gives us his two cents. Chris boasts an incredible CV from Boots counter worker to the founder of the doomed Friends Reunited among other initiatives. His book is on sale and he mentions that he works pretty much everyday, remotely from various coffee shops around the world and is a Foursquare efficiando.

The coffeeshop environment is explored from the entrepreneurs point of view as he suggests that

“If you are marketing to Mothers, spend time in a coffeeshop beside a school”

Interesting concept, although coffeeshop marketing may not take off as a moniker..


And the floor is open;

1. Patti from The Protection of Infant Health who thinks that we are concentrating on protecting big brands and ignoring the impact on real people…

-Cathy address this first wondering whether CSR is actually a misnomer, a big brand’s responsibility is to its shareholders before wider society. 

2. A labour candidate queries the panel on their consideration of awareness of corporate structure.

-Social enterprises are cracked open by Susan and while appreciating the scope for the good work they are doing, she points out that they are thin on the ground.  Cathy thinks that new forms of corporate structure, such as Community Interest Companies have a lot of potential to manage and regenerate areas.

3. How can charities get involved without compromising their charitable intentions?

Chris: Decisions about Fairtrade are not made because high st. brands really believe in them, it is ultimately because it makes them look good. SME’s alse use FT to hijack a bigger brand than themselves.

4. Is a new Sainsburys imact on small dying high st. town (Staffordshire-Moreland) a good thing?

Susan: Yes it is a good idea, but something must support it, like supplementary shops and cafes. This can be tackled by proper design and planning to create shops in between the Supermarket and the main part of the town.

Cathy: It depends if anyone is trying to leverage the impact of Sainsbury’s for the good of the High Street.   Coordination of effort from a place management body can achieve ‘co-opetition’…where large and small operators both compete but collaborate at the same time.

Alex: Some recent research in the US has found that whenever a Wallmart sets up out of town, the level of participation in political elections goes down.  Point being that there tends to be a disengagement within a community when they have to leave the centre to go shopping.

5. Mechanism to allow Big brands to put funding support into local charities/initiatives

-Steve refers to the ROI for governments investing which will result in lower offending rates. Idea of social returns is a very lucrative one for local councils and will be noticed at the highest level of government.

-True mutual partnerships are not just based upon cash, it may involve sitting on a board, attending meetings etc.

And that’s your lot folks, very interesting debate and I don’t think I’ve done it justice today as I can’t type as fast as the banter went back and forth.

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Good morning

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