Thursday, May 2, 2013

Thoughts on the proposed Tonbridge Loyalty Card....

Do we need a Tonbridge loyalty card? As a little aside it does amuse me that TLC is the abbreviated version of Tonbridge Loyalty Card but maybe, inadvertantly, they've struck the right note because, let's face it, our town is in urgent need of some TLC!  Lots of shops already have their own loyalty card schemes of course. Mr. Books has had one, Cycle-ops has one and certainly the new butchers has trialed one very successfully since its opening. But would a town wide scheme work? How would it be practically managed. It is one of the ideas being looked at by the Tonbridge Town Team/Business Alliance very seriously. Though dwindling in numbers over recent years, a meeting of many of the independent traders of Tonbridge was held last week to discuss the options. I didn't attend it myself but, as I understand it, some positive things came out of it albeit after some fairly lively discussion about the merits of the new plans for the town centre developments. But that's another story. My first instinct is that loyalty cards are a little old hat; but is that me just being an old cynic? How could it work though if every trader wanted something slightly different? One retailer may have more margin to play with than another. 10% off a high ticket item such as some furniture or a bike would clearly be more to consider than off cards or at the butchers. I think that I'm slowly coming round to the idea that such a scheme might help publicise the independent shops in the town but I am concerned that the take up from shoppers wouldn't be that great and I doubt whether it would actually have the effect of drawing shoppers to Tonbridge from other towns. So do I want to spend the proposed forty quid to find out? That is the question. But that's just my thoughts; what about yours....

13 comments:

Paul Bailey said...

Judging by the lack of response to this post, I would venture that there's little, or no support for this proposal. I think it's fine for individual businesses to offer loyalty cards of their own, but one encompasing the whole town would offer little, if any, additional benefits - as you correctly point out, TB.

In my view it will take a lot more than a loyalty card to draw shoppers to the town, especially when Tonbridge is competing with the likes of Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells. What the town needs is a healthy mix of independently owned shops, combined with a sprinkling of familiar high street "names". Lewes is a good example of a town which has achieved this, especially as it has managed to encourage many "quirky", slightly off-beat independent businesses, (independent record stores, book shops, delicatessans, plus, of course, Harvey's long-established Brewery Shop).

We all know though that high rents, and extortionate business rates, act against this from happening in our town. Ufortunately, there is no easy answer, but I feel Tonbridge Town Team/Business Alliance would be better off tackling these issues rather than promoting the lame duck idea of a town loyalty card.

manofkent said...

Take a look at the Sevenoaks Loyalty Scheme launched 2 yers ago. I don't think it will encourage me to go to Sevenoaks to shop.

Paul Bailey said...

The Sevenoaks Loyalty Scheme certainly wouldn't attract me to shop there either, manofkent. I wasn't even aware such a scheme existed, but quite frankly spend £60 and you're entered into a raffle! Wow!

A mis-guided, Mickey Mouse idea and not worth bothering with. Like I said originally, towns need to get to grips with sky-high rents and business rates, plus excessive parking charges, rather than bothering with daft schemes like this!

ps. There soon won't be a need for a loyalty card schem in Tonbridge anyway, if Sainsbury's carry on offering cash incentives (bribes), to "encourage" other businesses to move out of their premises. (See this week's Courier for further details).

manofkent said...

Once again a multi-national is tying to bribe a local council by offering a new sports centre and a cinema to expand its empire. Do we need this larger supermarket with many people now doing grocery shopping on-line and the possibility of a Morrisons on the old SETAR site has been floated?
Yes the Angel centre is outdated and a cinema would be an asset but the SETAR site would be more suitable.
The downside of the proposal is the loss of a dept store to be replace by 5 shops and a parking nightmare when the cinema is open during shopping hours. Nobody is coming to the town if they cant park.
If the 5 new shops are taken up I expect it will be from 5 existing High street business and then we get a few more holes in the High Street.
Its not the first time the council have allowed Sainsburys to expand, the last time a row of houses were demolished and people living there had no choice but to sell etc.
Recently over at Tunbridge Wells the council got into bed with a property developer withy plans to knock down and develop the Civic centre/museum/libary and Assemble hall complex.
The result was that the public revolted and the leader of the council was ousted and the development partnership was dissolved at a cost of at least £500,000. Beware TMBC leaders.

The Tonbridge Town team need to get to grips with real issues facing the High street rather than wasting time on a Micky Mouse loyalty scheme.

Tim James said...

Manofkent, I don't even know what SETAR is. What the hell is SETAR?
As for multi-national companies attempting to bribe the council, well, I was under the impression that the council in charge of us Tonbridgonians, or whatever the hell we're called is as corrupt and open to bribes as any other council in this country.
Personally, I wouldn't mind a cinema, as long as it's a good one. If it involves the closure of a few shops, what does it matter? As you say, more and more people are shopping online these days:-)

Tim James said...

I pay my rip-off extortionate council tax to have my bins emptied, and for the occasional use of a dilapidated crap library, as far as I can gather.
Thousands of people shop at Sainsburys because it's there. Given the choice, what do you have? The 99p shop? One decent butchers? Oh..and a HUGE variety of wonderful charity shops! Tonbridge is just great. Any change has to be good, so let the council take those bribes and make more millions if it makes my life even slightly more satisfactory.

Paul Bailey said...

Tim, the SETAR site that manofkent is referring to is at the bottom of Vale Rise, just below the Royal Mail sorting office.

The site was used for the storage and distribution of tars, destined for road building/maintenance. When the site closed the land was found to be heavily contaminated with coal tar and other unpleasant organic rsidues, so a large and expensive clean-up operation was carried out, with hundreds of tonnes of soil removed.

Morrisons are supposed to be building a store on the site, but to date there's no sign of anything happening.

Outraged said...

I shop at Sevenoaks but never heard or been offered a Loyalty Card. Perhaps the Tonbridge Town Team can get SE rail company to give 10% off!
Yes Paul I don't recall Beals being closed down nor Sainsbury's expanding in the published scheme a few weeks back . Surley it would have been better to close Sainsbury's down and expanded Beals? No doubt we tax payers are being stitched up big time over this one. Ho hum, new cars all round in the Council courtesy of Sainsbury's back handlers!

Paul Bailey said...

I don't know when Beales will be vacating their store, but I felt a real sense of sadness as I walked through the place yesterday. What will happen to Beales' loyal workforce? thrown on the scrapheap I expect, and all at Sainsbury's behest. Where will I shop now for reasonably-priced, quality men's clothing, and last minute Christmas gifts?

Whilst initially welcoming the joint Sainsbury-TMBC expansion/redevelopment scheme, the more it starts to unravel, the more of a stitch up it appears to be, and the more suspicious I become of the motives of these "joint partners". If Sainsbury's can afford to pay Beales £4m to surrender their lease, how much have they bunged our local council?

manofkent said...

Paul, the bung is that for exchanging the Angel Centre site, a new sports centre gets built in Bradford street and we are told there will be no loss of parking spaces as a result of this. Sainsburys claim that they will build a much needed cinema also at no cost to the council. You may remember that when Waitrose/Iceland were built the Ritz cinema was scaled down in size but it wasn't long before they were allowed to close it.
Since Sainsburys are not a cinema operator we need to find out if its being paid for by a cinema chain who will have a vested interest in keeping it open.
One of my main concerns is if the cinema offers parking concessions to compete with free parking at Tun Wells, where are all the shoppers
going to park during day time screenings?

Paul Bailey said...

manofkent, I'll believe all this if and when it happens. I still can't see how the developers can equate the loss of the Bradford Street car park with "no loss of parking spaces". Car parking is an issue at the moment, and this is before the new sports centre, cinema, enhanced Sainsbury's are even off the drawing board!

Btw, does anyone know what the situation is on the Morrisons proposal?

Brett said...

Will be interesting to see this develop as more details of the proposal emerge... As for the cinema - it's all well and good but how much demand will there be for it? You have North Farm 3 miles away with free parking and bowling on site. Sevenoaks and the Stag Theatre 5 miles away and then Maidstone in the other direction - just seems a very small catchment area...

MtotheWag said...

I agree with the comment above about the demise of Beales being a sad thing. I am happy that Tonbridge is getting some investment (if that has to be from Sainsburys so be it!) but it is a shame that the town's one and only department store will be sacrificed to that. I often pop to Beales for gifts etc and once it's gone I will no doubt have to make the trip to TWells. It might well be the same for others! While I assume that the newly expanded Sainsburys will include gifts, clothes, homewear etc that still won't replace a department store that stocks numerous brands, including some higher end ones. On the other hand, if the new retail units are well chosen then perhaps this will go some way to limit the impact. Overall, I can't see a £70m investment in Tonbridge as a bad thing.