Press release

Digital giant Google to give expert help to Britain's best high streets

Internet giant Google is to send a taskforce of experts into hundreds of high street stores to help Britain’s businesses to grow.

Great British High Streets

Winners of the Great British High Street Competition 2015 – sponsored by Boots, the Post Office, Costa and M&S – will be given training on how to make the most of their digital skills to attract new customers.

One hundred shops, bars and restaurants in each of the competition’s 7 winning categories will get tailor-made tips from Google’s training taskforce – the Digital Garage on Tour.

The competition boost takes the GB High Street prize pot to £80,000 and was today (1 July 2015) welcomed by High Streets Minister Marcus Jones.

He said:

This is an amazing offer. Shops, bars and restaurants will get some of the best in the business to review and improve their digital skills which can be so crucial in helping our high streets to thrive.

High streets are a vital part of the fabric of Britain – providing great spaces for friends and family to meet and socialise, powering the retail sector and supporting thousands of jobs.

We want to recognise and celebrate the best high streets across the country. That’s why I’m delighted to announce this new prize to help hundreds of high street retailers innovate and grab the opportunity to not just be great physical businesses but also great digital businesses too.

The Digital Garage on Tour is a workshop which includes sessions for businesses on finding and keeping customers online and the chance to have one-to-one consultations with Google specialists to chat through their businesses digital needs.

Eileen Naughton, Google’s MD for the UK and Ireland said:

Small businesses with a strong web presence grow more than twice as quickly as those without, but while many retailers and businesses know the importance of being online, getting beyond a basic website can seem tricky.

That’s why we’re sharing our knowledge and expertise by bringing The Digital Garage on Tour to Great British High Street winners, ensuring everyone gets the digital skills they need so that being online is a real growth engine for businesses.

The first Great British High Street competition last year saw 135 communities battle it out to be crowned the nation’s best. Belper in Derbyshire emerged as the overall winner.

This year’s competition – which runs until September 1 – gives towns, cities and villages the chance to celebrate how they are helping to revitalise Britain’s high streets.

For the first time the public will also have the chance to vote directly for their best-loved high street online.

The competition categories are:

  • best city centre high street
  • best town centre high street
  • best market town high street
  • best coastal community high street
  • best village high street
  • best parade of shops
  • best London high street

Additionally, this year’s competition sees the launch of a special recognition category for towns that have become ‘rising stars’, or local people who have made an invaluable personal contribution to their local high streets.

Those shortlisted will also be visited by the Future High Streets Forum judging panel made up of industry leaders from across retail, property and business.

All entrants to this year’s awards will also get a competition pack filled with helpful top tips to promote their entry alongside banners, logos and posters.

A renewed focus on our high streets has led to a revival in many areas across the UK with latest figures showing that year-on-year average weekly retail sales increased by 4.4% in May 2015 compared to May 2014.

This was the 26th consecutive month of retail sales growth and the longest period of sustained year-on-year growth since May 2008.

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Published 1 July 2015