Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Retail reporting

Attended the City Centre Retail Partnership board met this morning. We listened to reports about Christmas trading and heard about slow trading early in the month with a last minute burst of activity, a pattern reported across the country. Internet retailing accounts for a larger share of the market year after year, but when it gets to last minute buying and uncertainties over deliveries of mail, real shopping centres still attract customers needing to spend. The overall volume of trade less diminished than might have been the case. The media publicity campaign seems to have been successful in this respect, and despite the lousy November-December weather the ice rink and Santa's grotto attractions still did very well indeed. A positive outcome to a lot of very hard work in keeping Cardiff a desirable place to visit, but definite signs of the economic slow-down, to make everyone wonder what coming years will bring.

We hear news that the redvelopment is well on schedule, such that the John Lewis store and the new library bulding, which had its top-out ceremony last week, will be handed over by the construction companies for fitting out, towards the end of this year. The ground floor of the library will have three swanky restaurants, and these could well be open first, maybe in time for Christmas 2008. We'll see.

At the end of the meeting I had the opportunity to report on Cardiff Business Safe, and the changeover of security radio systems occasioned by the final collapse of Cardiff Chamber of Commerce whose entry into receivership was announced as I was going on holiday. The difficulties we've had in managing the affairs of CBSLtd. are all tied in with the demise of the Chamber, and with the inability of the City government officials to recognise that CBS would also need support, as it's impossible for any organisation to exist in a vacuum.

To my horror I found that the solicitors we asked to regularise our position with Companies House had only done half a job, leaving me to chase for signatures and make another, hopefully final visit to complete the unfinished business of 2006, before getting 2007 affairs up to speed after this meeting. Thankfully, CBSLtd. is not a big organisation, not too complex to cope with once things are unravelled and in order. The down side, as with any small organisation, is access to the expertise and resources needed to ensure success in detail. I fund it very worrying that basic administrative support for an organisation that arranges security communication for the city centre ended up neglected and disregarded. It was important to appraise the Retail Partnership of the problems and reassure them of the prospect of better things to come.

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