Bradford businesses ‘very excited’ for April re-opening as optimism grows
NON-ESSENTIAL businesses in Bradford are “very excited” ahead of being able to potentially re-open next month, but safety remains a “priority” as the fight against Covid continues. Under Step 2 of the Government’s roadmap, non-essential shops will be able to re-open on 12 April, while hospitality venues will also be allowed to serve people outdoors.
After a tough 12 months, Dr Trevor Higgins, Chief Executive of Bradford Breakthrough, has tipped Bradford’s local economy to make a “speedy recovery”. “I think the important thing is that we have a road out of lockdown. Businesses need certainty and to be able to plan for the future”, he said.
“After businesses re-opened after the first lockdown, footfall in Bradford city centre increased much quicker than in other UK cities – I think that will happen again. In the Roaring Twenties, after the First World War, people were enjoying themselves and spending money. There’s a lot of pent-up demand for people to go out and spend now, too. Bradford is very well-positioned to bounce back, as it has a Business Improvement District in the city centre. I think the city centre will make a speedy recovery. The building of new markets, the Odeon moving forward step-by-step and developments around City Park are all very positive, too. Bradford is a very entrepreneurial city – every time a business fails, it’s very sad, when people have put their lives and souls into it. But then, somebody else steps in and fills that gap. So, I’m very optimistic about Bradford’s future.”
Catherine Riley, Manager at the Kirkgate Centre, added that 12 April could be a “step towards normality”. “We will be very excited to welcome people back, but we’ll be doing it in a safety-conscious way. We’ll be abiding by the rules, but it’s difficult to imagine how our re-opening will look just yet, as so much is changing so quickly”, she said. “A lot of staff have sadly taken a hit to their income. It will be great to get them back to a position where they can support their families better. It’s been hard for our tennants, but we hope we can soon see some life and vibrancy back in Bradford. I’d also encourage people to get vaccinated – a lot of our staff, including myself, got the vaccine at Jacob’s Well, and everybody there was amazing.”
Ian Ward, General Manager at The Broadway, also said: “This phase of national restrictions has been a difficult period for all retailers, but what has been uplifting is the consumer appetite for things to return to normal. The public miss and want their local high street back. We hope the re-opening of The Broadway will mark the return of some normality, by allowing people to come into Bradford and experience what our great city has to offer.
“Working to current Government guidance, The Broadway and its retailers will re-open on 12 April. Trading hours are Monday to Saturday 9am to 6pm and Sunday 11am to 5pm. All Covid-secure measures we have been operating under since early last year will continue, to keep both shoppers and staff safe. The team at The Broadway is working incredibly hard to ensure we can deliver a safe and enjoyable customer experience in April, and we’re delighted to be doing all we can to support our retailers at the centre and the local economy in Bradford.”
Mark Cartwright, West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce’s Policy and Representation Executive, added: “Businesses will, of course, be looking forward to re-opening again. It’s been a very difficult 12 months, and very damaging to the economy. Also, working from home, despite the technological advancements over recent years, is still very different to being in the same building as your colleagues. We all need that interaction – it is good for morale and well-being. It is still important that we maintain social distancing, and businesses have invested in order to keep staff and customers as safe as they can possibly be. Some sectors have been hit more than others, obviously – with retail and hospitality being the obvious areas worst affected. The Government support, ably administered by Bradford Council, has been crucial to keeping some of our businesses afloat, and we now need to get them all back up-to-speed as quickly as possible, in order to get the economy going again – strictly within Covid-related guidelines, of course.