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‘Businesses clearly want the same thing’: BID manager relishes new role

COLLABORATION will be key as the town centre emerges from the pandemic and continues its economic recovery, says the new project manager for Luton Business Improvement District.

Julia Horsman has pledged to work in partnership with bodies such as Luton Council, the police, the town’s cultural organisations and businesses within the BID.  

She believes there is growing potential, resilience and optimism among town centre businesses, and that harnessing the power of collaboration as the landscape changes will attract even more workers, visitors and shoppers into the area. Staying ahead of changes in consumer behaviour will also be her focus.

Ms Horsman, a former Debenhams manager and an experienced retailer, has been appointed by Luton BID’s management consultants Partnerships for Better Business Ltd to deliver engaging projects, events and activities as part of the BID’s continued five-year business plan.

She replaces Fergus McLardy, who has left to take up a position with Luton Council.

Fergus McLardy

Ms Horsman said: “The BID has built a very solid reputation in the town centre and there is a wonderful sense of variety and community, with all the different businesses clearly wanting the same thing. This brings us masses of opportunity – it is a truly exciting time to take up this role.”

She has worked in retail management around the UK, latterly overseeing the Debenhams stores in Luton and Bedford before their closure. Luton town centre has already been ranked in the top ten UK retail recoveries and shesays this can be sustained across all local sectors including  professional services, leisure and hospitality.  

“I have also worked in towns where there has been no BID presence, so I know how challenging it is for businesses that don’t have this additional support,” said Ms Horsman. “We are lucky this is not the case in Luton.

“We just need to make sure we stay ahead of the game as buying habits shift. I will be listening and working with key partners like the council, police, cultural organisations and of course BID businesses to make sure we continue to invest our pot of money in projects that are important to them so that we further promote and improve our town centre.”

In 2019 businesses voted in favour of renewing Luton BID for a second term until 2024, which means they pay an annual levy towards the delivery of BID events, initiatives and projects.

BID chair Gavin O’Brien said: “Our BID board share excitement in welcoming Julia to the team. We are confident she will bring lots of passion and enthusiasm to the role.”

He also paid tribute to the work of Mr McLardy over the previous five years.

Gavin O’Brien, chair of Luton BID

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