Independent traders in Leamington urged to make the most of student skills and spending

Pictured standing are Stephanie Kerr (left) and Stephanie Summers (right) with, from left to right,  Eleanor Huish, Tomas Gliviak, Zara Yaqoob, Evelyn Gower, Ria Sethi and Daniar Rusnak, from the Enactus Warwick group.
Pictured standing are Stephanie Kerr (left) and Stephanie Summers (right) with, from left to right, Eleanor Huish, Tomas Gliviak, Zara Yaqoob, Evelyn Gower, Ria Sethi and Daniar Rusnak, from the Enactus Warwick group.

Independent traders in Leamington have been urged to make more use of the talents of students to boost business.

And independent shops, cafes and restaurants have also been urged to make more of student spending power – worth an estimated £64.5 million to Leamington’s economy – by offering more deals for them.

It comes after students at the University of Warwick conducted a survey of independent traders.

It was done by Enactus Warwick, which promotes enterprise and entrepreneurs. The university has one of the most prestigious business schools in the world.

Recommendations include taking on students to help traders build up business on social media and “tailoring retail offering” to students.

It also includes offering one-to-one advice to traders and repeating the survey in more detail on an annual basis.

The report was presented to BID Leamington, which promotes the town centre.

Evelyn Gower, of Enactus Warwick, said: “With the student population increasing, it is becoming more important for businesses to engage with this demographic.

“Utilising word-of-mouth advertising through partnerships with university societies, tailoring product and service offerings to meet student needs and utilising student skills are all simple, yet effective ways of capturing a bigger share of the student market.”

Parminder Birdi, of the Spa Computer Centre in Clarendon Street, and chairman of Leamington Chamber of Trade, agreed more independents should court the student market and use their talents.

He said: “It’s in the interest of businesses and we probably don’t do enough. Such things as the ‘student lock-in’ at the Royal Priors during freshers’ week introduces them to Leamington and us to them.

“I understand from the last one that they took more on that evening than they took during the day.”

Traders should show that they offer personal service and that independents are quick to rectify problems to keep their custom and word-of-mouth goodwill, said Mr Birdi.

And he said student reps on the chairman of trade board had “come up with tremendous ideas”.

“It’s not just social media, but it’s also the new skills set that they bring with them.

“It’s important for the independent traders to use their skills and promote their business through social media.

“A lot of the chamber members are hesitant about using social media, but they should use the talents that could be on offer from students.”

Enactus Warwick worked with independents, including ZouBisou, of Regent Court, which was highlighted in the report as being responsive to student needs.

Owner Stephanie Summers said: “I noticed that there was a lot of revision going on in the cafe and so recently introduced a discount for students after 6pm during exam time.”

Stephanie Kerr, executive director of BID Leamington, said: “It is great to have this brilliant resource of young people on our doorstep who are giving up their time to help us come up with ideas on how to take the town centre and its independent retailers forward.

“The report highlights the enormous potential for the town’s independent retailers to tap into the student market more.”