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Brighton and Hove business told to embrace e-commerce to survive
Independent firms have been encouraged to get online after a retail guru slammed Portas-style attempts to revive the high street.
In a controversial move, Bill Grimsey, the former boss of Iceland and Focus DIY, said failing stores should be turned into doctors’ clinics, preschool crèches, and social enterprises.
Responding to the comments, Tony Mernagh, chief executive of Brighton and Hove Economic Forum, said there was still a place for independent stores.
However, he warned that those in places such as Brighton’s North Laine and Lewes town centre must embrace e-commerce to survive.
Mr Mernagh said: “Retail is in a state of flux that could last for a decade. During that time, we are all just guessing howthe high street will turn out.
“The high street will probably become much less of a place to shop andmuch more of a place to meet and socialise.
“Failure to embrace e-commerce will eventually lead to failure itself but there is a wider question about the changing nature of the high street both in terms of the new economic landscape and the challenges from things like e-commerce.
“When home delivery gets to the stage where you can order goods in the morning and get delivery in the afternoon there will be an acceleration of internet transactions that still only account for 11% of retail sales at present.”
His comments come as an innovative retailer in Brighton’s North Laine has decided to shut up shop.
Lick, the frozen yoghurt store in Gardner Street, Brighton, will close its doors for the final time on September 29.
Ky Wright, co-founder of the business, said the firm will focus on selling its products through supermarket chains and wholesalers.
He said the time and energy needed to run the shop was not reflected in the revues it brought in.
A report by Mr Grimsey on the future of the high street will be published later this week.
Mr Grimsey told a national newspaper: “Our review is nothing to do with the magic notion of saving Britain’s high streets.
“We can't rely on retailing to be the saviour of town centres any more.
“We need a more holistic solution.”
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