Shopping Centre

SCEPTRE winner - Town Centre Manager of the Year

Published:  21 June, 2007

Mo Aswat, executive director of Bedford's Business Improvement District, won teh SCEPTRE Award for town centre manager of the year, sponsored by SGP Property Services.

Bedford is celebrating its first year as a Business Improvement District, and executive director Mo Aswat can point to some impressive achievements: On average 4,000 more people visit the town centre every week than they did a year ago thanks to a co-ordinated marketing campaign. Sales over Christmas 2006 were up 4 per cent year-on-year with discounted parking and a 300 per cent increase in usage at the town’s park & ride scheme. And shop theft has been slashed by 35 per cent in a year.

Key to the success of the BID has been the team of seven bluecap street wardens. They now routinely visit 200 businesses per week and deal with over 1,000 public enquiries per month.

But it hasn’t always been this way: when Aswat joined the Bedford Town Centre Company in 2000 it had just nine members with a turnover of £60,000. Now, as the first small town Business Improvement District it has 527 funding members and a spend of over £600,000.

All this activity is helping to attract new investment to bedford town centre: The Riverside Square and Castle Quay projects will start on site in 2007 and the Town Centre West project, including a new department store, a food store and 40 new shop units, will start in 2008.

2008 will also see the start of the NIRAH project, a £350 million development which aims to be the aquatic equivalent of the Eden project, and will be delivered by the same team. It is expected to bring over a million visitors to Bedford every year.