Joined-up thinking from the city’s business and political powerbases will serve its commercial future best, according to Waterford Chamber’s newly appointed Retail Committee Chairperson.
Speaking to The Munster Express, Anne Marie Caulfield said that improved lines of communication within the city’s retail, entertainment and hospitality section were also required.
“We’re hoping to broaden the representation base that currently exists,” said Anne Marie, whose position as Retail Chair is voluntary.
“And by doing that, along with opening further lines of communication between this committee and the local retail sector, hopefully we will make good on the plans and ideas which we wish to push forward.”
Ms Caulfield continued: “All who sit on the committee are in business in the city and are fully aware of what the day-to-day grind is like. One of our aims is to set up a forum in which we can assess how retail is faring across the city.”
It’s anticipated that this forum will be established within the next two to three months.
She added that the findings of a ‘High Street Productivity Review’ which suggested a drop of 1,000 shoppers passing through the city centre between 2007 and 2008 had to be treated in context.
“That particular survey only covered one day,” she said. “There’s no doubt that footfall is down nationally, but it’s not something that’s peculiar to Waterford.”
The City Council has already committed to a comprehensive footfall study in the city centre, a move which has pleased Waterford Chamber.
“We’re all in this together,” said Ms Caulfield. “Chamber, City Council and local businesses wish to move the city forward and to present the city in a positive manner to those who may wish to set up business in Waterford.”
So are there specific areas of concern which this committee will examine? “Menswear, ladies fashion and footwear seem to be suffering particularly,” she said.
“This would seen to be a sign of the times in terms of how the economy is faring…times aren’t as easy as they were and it’s important that we pool our information and knowledge to see where we’re headed.”
Issues likely to be addressed by the committee in coming months range from the city’s green routes to water charges as well as exploring initiatives which aim to revitalise the city centre.
News that Waterford City Council is to improve parking information around the city has been welcomed.
“The Council has confirmed that improved directional signage is to be installed, which is good news as it’s been something that Waterford has been lacking for quite some time.”
It’s a positive step, just one small example of how improved communication can further the city’s commercial objectives.
On a similar vein, Anne Marie Caulfield and her colleagues will be doing their bit to rejuvenate the city’s retail sector over the coming months. After all, as business-speak has long told us, communication is the key.