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retailers to be drawn into regeneration

April 2004

Large UK retail groups are to be invited to open stores and branches in deprived areas as part of a regeneration scheme.

A government-backed initiative on ‘underserved markets’ will announce four pilot areas where retailers will be asked to stimulate economic activity. Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Boots and B&Q have pledged support, although their involvement in the pilots depends on the areas chosen.

The Underserved Markets project, led by Business in the Community with £329,000 ($590,000) from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, will choose the four pilots this autumn from a shortlist of 12 urban areas including Barnsley, Bradford, Hastings, Lewisham, Luton, Oldham and Salford.

Lord Rooker, the regeneration minister, said that the initiative was an important element of the government’s policy on social exclusion.

‘We need to attract investment to these neighbourhoods to create a virtuous circle in which an increase in economic activity will lead to more local employment, increased local wealth and thus more investment,’ he said. The project, set up in March 2003, is supported by Lloyds TSB, the British Council of Shopping Centres and the British Retail Consortium, all of which will be involved in the four pilots.

The initiative is being led by Bill Boler, director of underserved markets at Bitc, who is on secondment from the US, where he was involved in similar work in the Bronx and Harlem in New York. That project was carried out by Business for Social Responsibility, a US business group that campaigns on CSR.




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