High Street Impact nominee – Chris Ward of Longton Exchange

High Street Impact nominee – Chris Ward of Longton Exchange
Posted on 06.06.24
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High Street Impact nominee – Chris Ward of Longton Exchange

When Chris Ward took over as the manager of Longton Exchange Shopping Centre in April 2022, 21 of the 60 retail units were empty. He has reduced the vacancy rate to just four.

In the same timeframe the centre has seen footfall increase by 32.5%.

In 2022 a row of 10 shops were due for demolition due to an over saturation of retail space in the town. Chris put together a proposal to the owners to reinvent this quarter of the shopping precinct for arts and culture.

Longton’s arts and cultural quarter will be named The Exchange Quarter and will add to the town’s strong retail offering.

The first unit to be let by Chris was to So Very Dog. Working with marketing company Toolbox Marketing, Chris ran a competition with a prize of a rent-free shop for 12 months. So Very Dog was the winner and is now stocked with the largest selection of natural dog treats in Stoke-on-Trent. The business has grown and is now looking to employ an additional team member, taking the staff total to three.

Community initiatives incluide the introduction of The Little Longton Book Exchange, a free library operated by volunteers, free school uniform initiatives, free breakfasts for families during the school holidays.

The very first National Lobby Week ran from January 22 to 28, with other businesses across the city joining in. Working with tenants Steve’s Quality Meats and MAW Fruit and Veg, Chris and the team served up and gave away more than 500 portions of piping hot lobby.

An annual Food and Drink Festival saw more than 11,000 people attend along with a Christmas light switch on with the biggest Christmas tree in the city.

In 2023 Chris was shortlisted for the Sceptre Awards for Centre Manager of the Year for the works implemented at Longton Exchange.

Chris not only manages Longton Exchange but other assets across the region. His knowledge and experience in the industry enables him to provide a forward-thinking approach to reinvent assets in the face of tough economic challenges.

Chris Ward has been nominated in the High Street Impact category of the Staffordshire University Business Awards for his work at :Longton Exchange.

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