Nottingham BID recaps a busy year – and plans for 2018

Lucy Gaicone, owner of Nottingham's top independent business

From catwalk shows and late-night shopping to a student festival and food and drink finder service, Nottingham city centre has seen a busy year of campaigns and events to help bring visitors to the city, thanks to Nottingham BID.

Initiatives such as Nottingham in Fashion, the Independents Festival and More After 4 have been organised and funded by Nottingham BID under the It’s in Nottingham brand. All share the same aim of highlighting everything that Nottingham has to offer, encouraging visitors and residents to come into the city centre, and making it a great place when they are here.

The BID’s calendar of activities kicked off with the Nottingham in Fashion event which showcased over 50 of Nottingham’s retailers during a weekend of free catwalk shows that over 1,000 people attended at the Council House, in the Old Market Square.

The Spring event highlighted the unique selection of stores, boutiques and fashion that the city has to offer.

In June and July, various activities and events took place to draw attention to the city’s unique mix of independent businesses.

The It’s in Nottingham Independent campaign started with a competition to find Nottingham’s Independent Business of the Year. More than 3,700 votes were cast to arrive at the top ten and then a panel of judges selected the winners.  Taking home the trophy this year was The Specialty Coffee Shop, on Friar Lane. Highly commended in the shopping and services category was Knit Nottingham on Trinity Walk, while Debbie Bryan, on St Mary’s Gate, was highly commended in the eating, drinking and things to do category.

There was also a dedicated independent food and drink evening – the Independent Moving Feast, an event which gave people the opportunity to have a starter, main course and dessert in a different independent restaurant.

The campaign culminated in the Independents Festival, which featured four pop-up stages across Nottingham hosting live free entertainment including an appearance by Peppa Pig, with thousands of people turning up to see him. Independent businesses in the city also got involved by organising their own in-store events and promotions.

Around the same time, Nottingham welcomed three large dinosaur sculptures to the city centre for the BID’s annual urban intervention initiative which this year tied in with the Dinosaurs of China coming to Nottingham.

A Tyrannosaurus Rex, Pterodactyl and Plesiosaurus were situated on Lister Gate near the intu Broadmarsh Centre, on Carlton Square on the Heathcoat Street triangle in Hockley, and near Nottingham Castle on Maid Marian Way.

The dinosaurs, which were the creation of sculptor Emma Stothard, were made from galvanised steel wire and formed a city centre trail from June to September.  Visitors could pick up or download a free trail leaflet which gave them a tour of the city centre, as well as encouraging them to visit local businesses.

The Tyrannosaurus Rex was specially made for Nottingham BID and has now been donated to the city, taking pride of place in the formal gardens of Wollaton Park, as a lasting reminder of the Dinosaurs of China exhibition that took place there.

Dining out in Nottingham city centre also got easier in 2017 with the launch of the It’s in Nottingham Food and Drink Finder – an online quiz which recommends the perfect places to eat all depending on what you fancy and the time of day.

This was launched as part of the It’s in Nottingham Taste Nottingham campaign, with the aim of promoting the great variety of food and drink establishments in the city and to date over 10,000 people have used it.

2017 also marked the second year of More Nottingham, with a new range of exclusive offers and discounts, as well as a mobile phone app.

Members of the scheme can now get access to discounts from over 80 city centre retail stores, bars, restaurants and cafes – simply by holding a MORE Nottingham card, which is exclusive to employees of Nottingham BID members, or owning a student card or a Robin Hood Transport or Easy Rider card.  In total over 100,000 people have access to the scheme.

In September, the winners of this year’s Best Bar None Awards were announced – with New Foresters scooping Overall Winner, as well as Best Pub and Best Independent awards.

The Best Bar None Awards are designed to promote the responsible and effective management and operation of licensed premises, with the scheme being run in Nottingham city centre by the BID since 2010.

This year 69 licensed premises in the city centre secured Best Bar None accreditation, with 54 achieving the top ranked gold status – an increase of six venues on last year, demonstrating that more venues than ever are committed to Best Bar None and dedicated to delivering safe and enjoyable nights out for their customers.

The BID welcomed students back to the city in October with the first ever StudentFest. Over 60 businesses in Nottingham hosted in-store activities and provided exclusive offers for one night only.

Students from the area and further afield were treated to live entertainment at key locations across the city, as well as shopping, eating and drinking discounts.

The event was organised in partnership with Nottingham City Council to welcome both new and existing students to the city, and showcase the selection of shops and food and drink outlets it has to offer.

A new campaign was launched towards the end of the year called More After 4, in a bid to encourage late night shopping, and eating and drinking in the evening as well as visits to entertainment venues within Nottingham city centre.

Well known retailers in Nottingham city centre such as John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Next, Primark, Zara and H&M, as well as a number of independents, are all open late on a Wednesday, with a number staying open until at least 7pm.

The scheme also sees shoppers being able to take advantage of midweek food and drink discounts, public transport deals and car parking offers – including free parking between 5pm and 8pm every Wednesday in the intu Victoria Centre car park.

And Nottingham celebrated securing Purple Flag status for an eighth consecutive year in 2017, confirming it as a great, safe and vibrant place for a night out.

To promote Nottingham’s Christmas offering, 50,000 copies of a special Christmas magazine, featuring ideas for presents and festive outfits from city centre shops, have been produced and widely distributed as well as a guide to venues for Christmas parties.

In addition, the Nottingham BID has continued to fund the street pastors and taxi marshals who help people in the city centre in the evening at weekends, enhanced street cleaning, a graffiti removal service and initiatives to reduce business crime.

Jeff Allen, chairman of the Nottingham BID, said: “It’s been a great year for the Nottingham BID. We’ve organised a number of very successful campaigns and activities over the course of 2017 to support our 800 members – retailers, food and drink outlets, office sector businesses and educational establishments in the city centre. We’ve got a great range of businesses and it’s our role to showcase and highlight them to the consumer as well as to ensure that people have safe and enjoyable experience whilst they are here.

“We’ve already started looking ahead to 2018 and have plenty of exciting plans to make our programme of activities for next year even bigger and better.”