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05 August 2016

The Overview

Harrow Town Centre has been impacted by increased competition and a significant change in the local demographic as well as continuing changes in consumer preferences and habits. Harrow Business Improvement District (Harrow BID) sought improve the performance of its town centre economy and the businesses located there.  

The Solution

FSP was appointed through a competitive tender process to conduct research to provide analysis of Harrow’s catchment, insight into shopper behaviour and an assessment of the opportunity for additional sales. The approach included visits to Harrow and all major competing locations, a detailed shopper survey, a full retail audit of Harrow Town Centre, assessment of Trading Gaps and detailed strategic recommendations for leasing and marketing activity.

The Catchment

Harrow has a large, densely populated catchment area roughly bordered by the A40, the M1 and the A406 North Circular.  It is in an area of high competition with the main ‘leakage’ destinations being Brent Cross, Central London, Uxbridge and Watford. All of these are set to benefit from improvements in the next few years meaning increased competition within Harrow’s catchment.

Harrow Catchment

The profile of catchment residents has evolved significantly over the last 15 years. In the 2001 census 58.8% of those living in Harrow identified themselves as ‘White British’; by 2011 this has declined to 30.9%.  Part of the reason for the research was to understand how Harrow could increase its appeal to its increasingly diverse resident base. 

Retail Audit

FSP’s retail audit of Harrow Town Centre included estimating sales and selling space broken down by merchandise category.  FSP also assessed the retail mix of Harrow in comparison to competing and similar locations by merchandise group, price point and F&B type of offer.  This showed that Harrow had above average provision of retailers with a Lower Middle / Value price point – FSP recommended that a marginal increase in retailers with an Upper Middle price point would increase appeal to more affluent shoppers not currently using the town. 
FSP combined the results of the retail audit with the detailed shopper survey (details below) and identified a number of zones within the town centre, based upon the retail mix and current usage.  The shopper survey showed that there is currently limited crossover between the zones with the majority of visits centred on Zone A which contains the majority of national retailers and the two covered shopping centres – St Ann’s and St George’s. 

Retail Zones Research

Shopper Survey

The detailed shopper survey also provided insight as to how shoppers use Harrow in relation to competing destinations, what stores they visited (and purchased from), how much they spent (both on Non-Food and F&B) and what would make them shop more often.

Shopper Survey

Trading Gap

This was used to establish the proportion of current shopper spend converted to sales within Harrow, compared to benchmark locations to establish the opportunity for sales uplift – the Trading Gap.  The Trading Gap also identified a number of under-performing zones within the catchment that would be suitable for targeted marketing to attract new shoppers to the town centre. 

The Trading Gap identified significant capacity for increased turnover, especially in the F&B and Clothing and Footwear sectors.  Using its bespoke FISH segmentation system, FSP recommended the Young and Family segments as the most appropriate sectors for retail expansion.

Retail Trading Gap Analysis for Harrow

The analysis of each of these elements was combined to form an overarching strategy for the town centre with key recommendations including:

  • Work with landlords to introduce a more ‘cosmopolitan’ Clothing & Footwear and F&B offer to increase appeal to Harrow’s diverse catchment population
  • Enhance the F&B offer in particular – introduce a street food market to increase appeal
  • Improve the environment, in particular the line of sight along St Anns Road
  • Improve and enhance links between St Anns Road and Station Road to expand the current retail circuit  areas
  • Implement combined marketing activities such as seasonal events, fashion nights and special events

The research also identified the key target Groups for marketing and leasing activity and recommended a list of appropriate absent retailers and key messages that should be communicated to each different Group.

The Result

Research results and recommendations have been shared with all major stakeholders, including the owners of the two major shopping centres within the town centre as well as the BID Board and the local council.  Harrow BID has also appointed a marketing agency to ensure there is an integrated approach across the key stakeholders. 

FSP’s research has enabled us to provide clear direction as to how retailers within Harrow Town Centre can adapt to the rapidly changing demographic profile of catchment residents and has provided us with a clear strategy for future activity

Andy Stubbs, the Chief Executive of Harrow BID

For more information please contact:
Andrew McVicker – Sales Director - Andrew@fspretail.com
Samantha Fox – Senior Consultant - Sam@fspretail.com