The Visual Merchandising training programme, run by Vision On, gave Harrow’s businesses independent professional support that larger department stores often use to help promote their goods. Eleven retail businesses in Harrow Town Centre and 21 in North Harrow completed the training.
The training seems to have paid off, with three quarters of the Harrow Town Centre traders seeing an increase in sales and with nine out of ten attracting new customers since completing the training.
In North Harrow, 60% have attracted new customers and 65% have received positive feedback from their customers about the changes to their business since finishing the programme.
Ashley McGrath, who works at Toy Galaxy in Station Road, Harrow, is one of the traders who completed the training. He says he has seen an increase in sales and positive customer feedback. He added: “The trainers were amazing because they were very approachable, and as a result we feel more confident. Sales have increased and we now have a vision.”
Debbie Canwell, the shop manager at Gold Lovers in Harrow Town Centre, was so impressed that she asked four other staff members to participate in the training to learn as much as possible. She said: ‘This course has really opened up our eyes and given us all a new perspective. We feel we are really making focused changes now to drive sales and we have a plan going forward.”
The training was provided through money secured from the Mayor of London’s Outer London Fund. Harrow Council was given a total of £856,400 which was spent improving parking, encouraging visitors and increasing footfall, as well as finding apprenticeships.
Cllr Keith Ferry, portfolio holder for planning and economic development on Harrow Council, said: “Supporting the town centre and local businesses is a top priority for the Council. They are the heart of our communities and we want to help them thrive.
“Ask any experienced salesperson what is important for successful sales and they’ll say that creating a good impression is key. All of the outlets that completed the training now look very inviting. It’s fantastic that the programme we have provided our local businesses with has been so successful in getting new customers and more sales.
“We have secured a further grant of £1.8m from the second round of the Outer London Fund. Our plans for next year include improving the public realm, creating a town park and hosting further events in the town centre.”