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Posted on:
26th March, 2018

LEPs must continue to support the retail sector in challenging times.

With a key aspect of the county’s economy being the retail sector, as the Local Enterprise Partnership for Oxfordshire, it is our role to ensure we continue to support this major economic driver.

LEPs must continue to support the retail sector in challenging times.

By Nigel Tipple, Chief Executive, Oxfordshire LEP

Last year saw the opening of two major developments in Oxfordshire, namely the £440m Westgate Oxford redevelopment and the opening of 30 new stores at Bicester Village.

In what is already a key sector for the county (currently 31,000 people in Oxfordshire work in retail, according to the latest Nomis labour market information statistics for the county), both locations have the ability to attract top-class retail, not to mention the thousands of new jobs and training opportunities that come with it.

Westgate Oxford in particular has been the stimulus behind increased footfall to the city centre, with a recent report from Oxford City Council showing a 11.9% rise during the week beginning 22 January, compared to the equivalent week in 2017.

The redevelopment will no doubt continue to support the city centre as a whole to be an attractive place to visit and – consequently – other retailers in-and-around Oxford will benefit from increased visitor numbers.

In-light of the recent news regarding Toys R Us and Maplin both entering administration, it is clear that we need to ensure – as a county – that we create the right conditions to allow our traditional ‘high street’ stores, as well as our retail parks, to thrive.

Working hand-in-hand with this is the need to deliver an infrastructure that matches such world-class developments. The £215m commitment from central government – through the Oxfordshire Growth Deal – will certainly have a positive knock-on effect for our retail sector.

As a county, we have worked hard to create a great retail experience – therefore, it’s crucial that we help all retailers to benefit from this major investment.

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