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Chief Executive Blog. June 2020

We are beginning to look forward as the reopening of non-essential retail approaches on 15th June 2020. Towns and cities across England and Wales have been making the necessary arrangements so that we can welcome consumers, employees and visitors alike by creating a safe environment in which we can all feel comfortable and confident under social distancing guidelines.

Croydon BID has been working extensively with the local authority so that all planning considerations are taken in to account. The reopening of Croydon town centre should be viewed only as the start with a focus on making small, tentative steps to the full reopening of the town centre.

There is no rule book and the simple truth is that as the social distancing measures are implemented across the town centre footprint, we will begin to get a far better picture as to the solutions that, not only provide the support required to people and businesses but, more importantly, areas where adjustments are required to improve the customer experience.

We do not expect every non-essential retail store to be open on 15th June 2020. Many of the larger retailers will reopen their stores in phases so that their social distancing models can be tested in situ first before expanded across their property portfolio. With the likes of Primark confirming that they will not be opening any of their stores on 15th June 2020, we can expect others to take similar decisions by limiting store openings to certain locations.

The High Street will, in the main, take a cautious approach to reopening. In the meantime, plans for Croydon town centre continue at speed…

Now, more than ever, the customer experience in the context of Covid-19 is paramount. The first objective is to promote safety through social distancing in the town centre.

The need for our customers to walk freely and safely in the town centre has been at the core of many of the infrastructure changes taking place, from partial road closures to floor markings, directional signage and communications.

We have been in discussions with many of those businesses that are seen as essential as to the challenges they have experienced during lockdown so that we can consider how best to mitigate against these problems and improve the street scene and operation under social distancing. 

We launched the Retail Operations Group, bringing together retailers and providing businesses the opportunity to discuss the challenges and plans moving forward, in conjunction with Croydon Council. The group will continue to meet and will expand in membership as the town centre reopens. 

We want to make sure all of our businesses have access to support and guidance and as such we have developed a new Covid-19 Hub containing all of the relevant information, guidance and support tools your business may need as it begins to reopen. In particular, we have created:

  • Reopening Croydon Town Centre – a practical guide for business: A step by step approach to the planning considerations you need to prepare before your business reopens in the town centre with access to government support and advice
  • Covid-19 Toolkit: We have created a number of resources for your business to use, whatever sector you may be in, to support social distancing in the workplace. Each business must complete risk assessments and display clearly a ‘Covid-19 secure’ notice confirming that your business complies.
  • Floor decals (internal): We have designed and ordered social distancing floor stickers to support you, your business and your customers. Should you require an order of these floor stickers, please contact Croydon BID on 020 8603 0050 or email Keely Dench on keely.dench@croydonbid.com
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Guidance: We have prepared guidance notes on where you can access PPE equipment with confidence. We have provided access to preferred suppliers. If you wish to place large orders, Croydon BID will facilitate with the aim of agreeing the best price.
  • Queue Management – Guidance: As more and more stores open, social distancing will become more complex and the management of your queues is an important aspect for us all to consider. The guidance provides key aspects you need to consider as a business in managing your queues.

To support queue management, Croydon BID will be implementing a series of floor stencil queue markers in the town centre to support the management of your customers and to ensure social distancing is central to its operation. These markers will be going down later this week and our team are in constant discussions with businesses to agree on the queue locations.

Challenges bring opportunities. The chance to redesign, shape and innovate.

In 2012, London welcomed the Olympic Hosts, possibly the greatest asset in presenting a welcome to the world. The same approach is required now as we present a welcome for our returning customers, employees and visitors.

Croydon BID, Croydon Voluntary Action and Croydon council are therefore proud to confirm that we have launched the Croydon Hosts, a new volunteer network of hosts welcoming people back into the town centre, providing information, advice and guidance, signage, enforcing the social distancing message and above all offering a welcome smile. As a result, we hope this will provide much needed confidence not just for our consumers but for our businesses. The scheme will launch in the next week, with volunteers across the town centre supporting the effort.

Finally, we have begun to bring back some of our core services at Croydon BID. Our cleaning team will return to the town centre at the end of this week alongside our planters and hanging baskets to offer some much needed colour for the summer.

In closing, what is fundamental is reopening all of Croydon town centre. It is not lost on me that the hospitality and leisure sector remains closed and that the sooner they are able to open safely the better.

Stay safe and thank you for your continued support.

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