// Bill Grimsey launches project to assess how independent retailers have traded through Covid-19
// A report is due to be published in June
The former chief executive of Wickes and Iceland, Bill Grimsey has launched a project to assess how independent retailers have fared through the Covid-19 pandemic and what can be done to support them.
Over the next six weeks, Grimsey will invite independent high street businesses to share their pandemic experiences.
He is calling for evidence to highlight the challenges indies faced during lockdowns, the action they took and the help or lack of support they received from local and central government, and their local communities.
A report is due to be published in June.
“Smaller shops and hospitality businesses have been undervalued by government for years because government is only interested in the big corporates and major brands,” Grimsey said.
“But two things have happened during the pandemic that’s challenged this thinking. Firstly, there’s been a rise in localism with people coming to value smaller, local shops and commuting less.
“Secondly, many major brands have gone bust and disappeared for good from our high streets leaving huge gaps behind.
“A few years ago everywhere wanted a Debenhams, but now towns are realising that the clone-town model is over.
“Independent shops and hospitality are key to developing a distinctive identity and unique sense of place.”