Golden ticket opportunity in town this weekend

THE buzz is back in Ballymena – that’s what independent retail traders in the town centre are saying as they celebrate a three per cent hike in sales over the last year.

The buzz is back in Ballymena! That was the call from Walter Hutchinson, Department for Social Developments Regional Development Office; Mayor of Ballymena, Alderman P.J. McAvoy and Willie Alexander, Revitalise Programme Steering Group who today celebrated the completion of a £150,000 Revitalisation Programme with the announcement that 10 independent retail traders in Ballymena's Church Street and Bridge Street experienced a 3% hike in sales over the last year. Vacancy rates in the renowned trading thoroughfares also bucked the national trend, with five new start-ups since April 2012, when the Revitalisation Programme commenced. The Revitalisation Programme, funded by the Department for Social Development and managed by Ballymena Town Centre Development Ltd, provided 48 traders in the towns Church Street and Bridge Street with funding for major improvements to shop and gap site facades.

The upturn for 10 retailers in Church Street and Bridge Street coincides with the delivery of a £150k Revitalisation Programme for the town.

Vacancy rates also bucked the national trend, with five new start-ups since April 2012, when the programme commenced.

To mark its completion, local shoppers are invited to ‘shop until they drop’ on Saturday, March 30, and be in with the chance of winning a host of excellent prizes as part of a retailer Golden Ticket promotion.

There will also be a wide range of activities available for all ages including a face-painting, balloon modelling and prize giveaways.

The Revitalisation Programme was funded by the Department for Social Development and managed by Ballymena Town Centre Development Ltd.

Under the programme, 48 traders in the town’s two most renowned shopping thoroughfares received funding for major improvements to shop and gap site facades.

A brighter and more vibrant appearance for local businesses has been supported by a range of promotional activities to help attract increased footfall into the town centre.

Walter Hutchinson of the Department for Social Development’s Regional Development Office, said: “This work on transforming the appearance of both streets has clearly increased market confidence of many independent trader businesses in the area. Hopefully the area can make good progress and maintain an attractive street frontage which will appeal to more shoppers and visitors in the future.

“Ballymena Town Centre Development Ltd is to be commended for their efforts working with businesses and property owners to deliver the scheme in a relatively short timescale.”

Willie Alexander, Chair of the Revitalise Programme Steering Group, said: “Ballymena Town Centre Development Ltd is delighted to announce the completion of the Revitalisation Programme, which signifies the culmination of a successful year for Church Street and Bridge Street.

“The programme has created a bright and vibrant appearance for local businesses to prosper and grow, particularly independently owned retailers, which will help attract sustained investment and regeneration in the area.

“Despite the economic pressures on the independent retail sector, the delivery of the programme has coincided with a decrease in vacancy rates and a selection of traders experiencing annual sales increases above the UK average.

“We hope that the Department for Social Development will use our programme as a blue-print for success and deliver its funding to other parts of Ballymena to help sustain the retail economy of the town.”

Alderman P.J. McAvoy, Mayor of Ballymena, said: “The Ballymena Revitalisation Programme received tremendous support from local businesses that recognised the potential for the regeneration of the area and attracting new investment.

“The traders of Church Street and Bridge Street worked together to provide a much brighter and vibrant street appearance for local shoppers and helped transform one of Ballymena’s main shopping areas.

“Ballymena Borough Council is fully committed to supporting future town centre initiatives to maintain Ballymena’s position as the number one provincial shopping town.”