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Stockport tackles vacant retail units with art

Story taken from www.localgovernmentexecutive.co.uk

Stockport Council has unveiled its most recent art exhibition in the unusual setting of shop windows, as part of its Stockport Boost initiative.

The project is part of the council’s £120,000 Vacant Commercial Units Initiative, set up to improve the look of local high streets across the borough and encourage a reduction in the number of vacant shop units.

Working in partnership with Merseyway Shopping Centre, vacant units have been dressed by Stockport Art Gallery and visual merchandising expert Jonathan Baker, senior lecturer of visual merchandising and retail design at the London College of Fashion.

Councillor Kevin Hogg, executive member for regeneration, at Stockport Council, said: “Stockport is not alone in seeing a rise in the number of vacant shop units; this has unfortunately been a national trend. The Council has been working hard, together with local businesses, to encourage a reduction in the number of empty units and improve their appearance.”

Seven themed window displays have been created in three empty units. Baker designed visual schemes which look at creative ways of using objects to communicate an imaginative story or scene. Historical artefacts from Stockport Council’s museum collections have been combined with work by eco-designer Michelle Brand, textile designers Jane Withers, Nawal Gabreel, Clare Webster and artist Karl Christian Geleff.

Councillor John Smith, executive member for leisure, added: “Stockport Art Gallery has worked with a visual merchandiser to display the work of artists, designers makers and museum objects in creative way to give Stockport’s high streets a boost.

“This really is an inspiring way to animate empty shop units and bring the town centre to life by combining historic artefacts, cutting edge design and the very latest in visual merchandising techniques. It is a winning formula aiming to get these units re-let by showing them in their best light.”

Brendan Webb, Merseyway Shopping Centre manager, GVA facilities management, commented: “We have been working closely with the Council to put this fantastic exhibition together. The number of vacant units is declining, and this scheme is a great way to make the units more appealing to both shoppers and potential retailers.”

These shop unit displays will be available to view over the next few months at Merseyway Shopping Centre.