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There’s more to the city than the Lanes, say Brighton’s shop owners
Traders say they are being left out of a new marketing push to promote shops in the centre of Brighton. VisitBrighton, the tourism arm of Brighton and Hove City Council, has appointed an external PR agency to promote the North Laine and The Lanes.
Oliver Relations has been appointed to spread the word about the city, including its fashion and festival offerings.
Phoebe Oliver, director of the firm in Gloucester Mews, said that in the next few months there would be a focus on the city’s shopping prospects ahead of the run up to Christmas. She said that plans are being drawn up to bring female-focused travel and consumer writers on a press tour of the shopping experience and city to promote boutique shopping, especially in The Lanes and North Laine. But traders in other parts of the city said they feel they are being overlooked.
Angelo Martinol, chairman of the Preston Street Traders Association and owner of Casalingo restaurant, said the area west of the city centre had been forgotten. He said: “We have been left out again. I haven’t heard anything about this. I have tried to make contact with VisitBrighton but they do not get in touch. I would like them to call me.
“Preston Street should be included in any PR campaigns about shopping too.”
Gavin Stewart, chairman of the Brighton Business Improvement District, said: “We absolutely welcome the fact that retail in the city is being promoted by VisitBrighton but we would like to see the initiative widened to other areas such as London Road and Preston Street, which need more help than the North Laine and The Lanes.”
Graham Cook, owner of Badlands Guitars in Preston Road, north of the city centre, said that the council was wrong to focus on the North Laine and The Lanes.
He said: “They don’t struggle. That’s where everybody goes. We have some quirky independent stores in this area that need help with promotion. There are some great shops around Preston Circus but you don’t get to hear about them.”
Leah Barnett, sales manager of the Walk In Wardrobe in Western Road, said that Hove must not be forgotten.
She said: “There are always things going on here but the North Laine and The Lanes get the best footfall because they are near Brighton railway station. I think shops in Hove should definitely be part of VisitBrighton’s marketing efforts.”
But Warren Ransom, owner of Ransom general store in Ann Street, said his shop has survived for 40 years without marketing.
He said: “I don’t need support form VisitBrighton or anyone else. I rely on word-of-mouth and I am always busy.”
Ms Oliver said: “VisitBrighton is very keen on getting the city and its shops out there in the press. “Brighton has great boutique offerings, especially in the North Laine and The Lanes but as a boutique you’re there to be discovered so we’re there to give that guidance. This is just the start and we are open to ideas for other projects.” A council spokeswoman said VisitBrighton has engaged Oliver Communications following the end of a contract with a London-based PR firm.
She said: “Phoebe Oliver will be working with the tourism arm of the council on specific projects in the run up to Christmas concentrating on promoting the shopping experience in the city.”