Spaghetti and Segways were on the menu at a local BID Leamington business meeting for Leamington’s retailers and restaurateurs.
BID Leamington, which works to promote the town and its retail, food, and drink offering to visitors, organised the open networking event for town centre businesses, with national retail store managers and independent business owners in attendance.
Guest speakers at the event, which took place in the Royal Pump Room Gardens, were local business figures Graham Todd and Jo Ciriani of Spaghetti Agency, who gave expert advice on the digital landscape in a Q and A session, and April Weller of UK Segway Polo, who brought along Segways for guests to try out.
Stephanie Kerr, executive director of BID Leamington, said the BID recognises the significance of networking events as an important way of supporting local businesses.
“Each year we organise several networking evenings which help us get to know business owners and share ideas about how we can work together to support the local business community,” Stephanie said.
“This time we wanted to do something a little different, so we were pleased to attract both the owners of independent restaurants and retail shops as well as managers from national chain stores.
“These events are held with the aim of helping businesses to get to know each other and develop collaborative ideas and new skills, so with Todd and Jo sharing best online practice for businesses, and April encouraging attendees to network and socialise in a unique and fun way, we’re confident we achieved this.”
First to address guests was Todd, who co-founded local social media and online marketing company Spaghetti Agency, which trains businesses in the professional use of social media.
Todd, who also heads up the UK’s leading 4N group, Leamington 4Networking, said the event showed the exciting energy and entrepreneurial thirst in the town.
He said: “We love the creative and independent spirit in Leamington, and it was great to collaborate with BID Leamington. It’s always a pleasure to speak at events in the community and as big networkers we enjoy bringing businesses together to give them useful tips and ideas.
“Most businesses want to use social media and have ideas but are not always confident to use it, so I gave guidance on which social media channels are effective for different businesses. I also shared some simple tips that can be used to reach wider audiences – with the aim to ultimately increase awareness and sales.”
The session was followed by an introduction to the game of Segway Polo – a new sport which is a variant of traditional polo and hockey – which co-founder and partner of Warwick Segway Polo, April Weller, co-ordinated as part of a networking exercise.
April said: “Segway Polo really is the ‘Sport of Equals’, so we were delighted to bring along Segways and introduce guests to this new and exciting sport, which is really growing in popularity among working professionals – who are one of our key target markets.
“Warwickshire and more specifically, Warwick Segway Polo Club, is the main base for Segway Polo in the UK so the event was a great opportunity to meet local people and raise awareness of the sport, and we had a great reaction – people signed up to the Warwick Segway Polo Club Facebook page and MeetUp.com page to attend practice sessions.”
For more information about the businesses mentioned please see: www.bidleamington.com; www.spaghettiagency.co.uk; www.warwicksegwaypoloclub.org
Leamington’s appetite for independent eateries has been indulged with the launch of three new cafés and restaurants in the town centre within six months.
The Tame Hare, Aubrey Allez and The Steamhouse have all opened in Warwick Street to further enhance the town’s diverse and vast offering to food and drink lovers.
Each eatery is independently-owned – with one owner returning to the town from the Cotswolds, and one café an extension of a family-run butchers and catering company.
Home to more than 50 bars and restaurants in the town centre alone, Leamington Spa is renowned for its varied and distinctive dining offering.
Stephanie Kerr, executive director of BID Leamington, said the new restaurants were a major boost not only for the town’s economy but also its lively and colourful identity.
“These new restaurants follow the opening of a number of new independent stores across the town centre, revealing the continuing trend and popularity of small business in Leamington,” she said.
“The town is a champion of independent business and this is shown by the collaborative, community approach many adopt.
“Both Aubrey Allan and The Tame Hare will be exhibiting at this year’s Food and Drink Festival, and we look forward to helping them raise their profile at the popular event.”
Most recently opened is café and takeaway shop, Aubrey Allez. A new arm to Leamington’s largest catering company and butchers, Aubrey Allan, the ‘food to go’ store is situated next door to the company’s butchers and delicatessen and serves breakfast, fresh salads, coffee and sandwiches.
Peter Allan, chair of Aubrey Allan, said: “Aubrey Allan is already a well-established, award-winning butchers and catering company, and one of the town’s biggest employers.
“The next natural step was to branch out into running our own restaurant, which will really boost our share in the market and help to enhance our reputation as experts in food and catering.”
The Tame Hare offers seasonal British food and is a family-run endeavour between chef director Jonathan Mills and father, Simon Mills.
Jonathan, who previously ran a pub in the Cotswolds and relocated to Leamington Spa to launch The Tame Hare, said: “I’m born and bred in Leamington so when the opportunity arose to manage my own venue, my father and I jumped at the chance.
“We’ve had great feedback already and a lot of repeat customers, which is really promising.
“It’s great to have the support of local businesses and BID Leamington – we’re already signed up to exhibit at the Food and Drink Festival, which we’re looking forward to.”
The Steamhouse, a specialist bagel shop offering New York deli bagels and coffee, is a new joint venture for Ashley Baker and partner, Kayleigh O’Mahony.
The pair – who previously managed their own business selling fresh coffee from a VW van at events – decided to take their work to the next level by opening their own restaurant.
Ashley said: “After enjoying a successful stint touring major events across the UK, we discovered a love of hospitality and catering but yearned to take the business to the next level with a permanent base.
“Leamington is an affluent and charming town popular with tourists, students and shoppers, so the ideal fit for The Steamhouse.
“We’ve had a really warm welcome and are now hosting music nights in collaboration with local businesses, and in recognition of the town’s major student population, we now deliver through Deliveroo.”
Summer is just around the corner and once again we will be tapping into the town’s strong DNA and working together to create fun and opportunity in the town center this summer.
This can be seen in our incredible entrepreneurial history, beautiful architecture, stunning gardens and strong mix of small and large businesses. Over the last five years we have nurtured and built on this foundation to create a culture of working together to foster loyalty and offer customers a spectacular experience.
There is also an exciting calendar of events – some of which are delivered by BID Leamington but many delivered by hard working volunteers in the community. These events attract thousands of visitors to the town centre every year.
All this combined means that the town centre and its community is resilient and well placed to navigate change. However, there is no doubt that there still uncertainty and we know that even small changes to footfall, spend and currency can impact businesses, particularly our smaller ones. That is why we will be working hard to support local businesses to continue to ‘play to your strengths’ – buying smartly and offering fabulous products, service and experiences.
We will also be supporting and encouraging businesses to stay nimble and to act in new ways where needed. Things that can be considered include embracing new technologies, building unique bundles of products and services, utilising your email databases creatively, promoting your expertise and supporting each other to work together in imaginative ways.
With a number of activities and events coming up, here are a few ideas about how to capitalise on the captive audience they bring …
Making the most of events, marketing & promotions …
- Would you would like to feature in the next photo shoot … just let us know?
- Do you have any news or offers for the royal-leamington-spa.co.uk – just email them through to firstname.lastname@example.org anytime.
- Host a themed event in your shop. We will promote it on the ‘Royal Leamington Spa’ website and in the local papers.
- Give us flyers or offers to distribute at events. We often have a stall and staff on standby to help you get involved in some way.
- Tweet it Up! Look out for the relevant hashtags – #LoveLeam #LeamFoodFest etc.
- Help us bring the town alive with fabulous themed window displays
Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you would like to know more.