Over 40 independent retailers in Chichester, Midhurst, Petworth, Selsey and East Wittering took part in the Retail Training Programme, organised by Chichester District Council and delivered by Sally Pepper and Jason Hayward from ibd Business Advice Group.

The programme identifies retail best practice and looks at six specific areas that work together to create improvements: business planning, marketing, branding, customer service, window dressing and visual merchandising.

Craig Wharton, from The Welsh Country House in Petworth, says "As a fledgling business, I have followed a number of the principles that Sally and Jason have shared with me. Because I have followed these principles, I have seen an increase in sales. I have also benefitted from meeting other business owners and exchanging ideas."

Amanda Baggot, from Proposals bridal shop in Chichester, says "Jason and Sally are keen and enthusiastic about independents and always presented everything in such a positive light. The other attendees were all friendly and keen to share experiences. I have definitely come away from each session with new ideas and have implemented some already. So many of these ideas are free or very cheap and easy to do, but little things all add up to making quite a difference.

"I would definitely recommend this training to other retailers, whether you are just starting out or have been in business for years, you will always find something fresh and new that you can use."

Creating and executing effective window displays formed a key part of the training and businesses are now being encouraged to put these skills to the test by entering the Christmas window display competition, being run by trainers Sally and Jason.

The competition is open to all businesses that completed the Retail Training Programme and will be entered under one of the following categories:

  • product based businesses in Petworth and Midhurst;
  • product based businesses in Selsey and East Wittering;
  • product based businesses in Chichester; and
  • service based businesses across all five locations.

Entries will be judged on a range of criteria including: how the products are displayed; the use of space, props and graphics within the display; and the overall appearance of the shop front.

Judging will take place in early December and a winner will be chosen from each of the four categories. The winners will each receive a bottle of fizz to celebrate their success.

"We offer a range of support to local businesses including training, advice, grants, and networking opportunities," says Councillor Tony Dignum, Leader of Chichester District Council. "The Retail Training Programme has enabled lots of independent retailers in our key high streets to gain the skills they need to achieve their goals.

"The Christmas window display competition provides the perfect opportunity for independent retailers to get creative with the skills they have learnt and bring some festive cheer to our high streets.

"Christmas is the busiest time of the year in retail, so I would encourage everyone to support small businesses when shopping for presents this year."

People can find out more about the support on offer for businesses on the business advice and support web page.

Date of release: 6 November 2018

Reference: 3852