Coventry’s exciting start as UK City of Culture can help encourage more people back to the city centre, according to business leaders.
Representatives from the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce paid a visit to the city centre to find out how businesses have been faring since the most recent lifting of Covid-19 restrictions.
Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Chamber, Hazel Pilling, membership manager, and Tim Squires, the vice chair of the Chamber’s Coventry branch, went along to Esquires Coffee, which is connected to Coventry Transport Museum.
They met Esquires Coffee owner Steven Prime along with Dan Bennett and Lyndsay Smith, both of Coventry city centre Business Improvement District.
And, after enjoying a coffee, they headed through Broadgate – which is awash with colourful flags and banners on the back of the launch of Coventry 2021 – before arriving at the new Coventry City of Culture retail outlet in Hertford Street.
Tim said the city had been transformed over the past 12 months.
He said: “It was great to be back in the city centre, having a coffee at Esquires and then seeing some of the work that has helped to improve Coventry as a place to visit.
“There has been a huge spotlight placed on Coventry and with so much media coverage around the launch of UK City of Culture it has really helped to raise the region’s profile.
“We enjoyed great hospitality at Esquires where the team have worked extremely hard to ensure that they don’t just meet Government guidelines but go beyond them to make sure everyone feels safe and relaxed while they are enjoying a drink and a bite to eat.
“Then, when we visited Broadgate, it felt like a wonderful continental square with so much colour and so much investment which has helped to transform the city.
“It’s important for people to have confidence to return to businesses across the region and I am sure being UK City of Culture and all of the effort businesses have put in to being safe and secure will help to do that.”
Steven Prime said: “It was great to host the Chamber and for them to carry the message that we are open for business.
“We don’t know, yet, what will happen on June 21 in terms of rule changes but, whatever the Government decides, we will still take a judgement on what customers are most comfortable with.
“So many people haven’t been out for something as simple as a coffee in a long time so we are placing huge emphasis on making everyone feeling safe and relaxed as they come back out again.
“The Chamber helping us to get that message out is of huge support – not just for Esquires but all businesses that are looking to bounce back and help rebuild the regional economy.”
Lyndsay Smith, Hospitality & Retail Sector Support Team Leader at Coventry BID, added: “We thoroughly enjoyed meeting the Chamber and chatting to them about how much has changed in the city over the last year. It’s been wonderful to see so many people out and about enjoying the glorious weather we’ve been having recently and taking advantage of the numerous alfresco dining spots.
“Of course, there’s the option to dine indoors now as well. We’re proud to continue supporting our businesses across both the hospitality and retail sectors – this is a huge year for Coventry, and we can’t wait to show off our great city to the world!”