Shrewsbury businesses have been looking back on the “most challenging year in living memory” – and looking ahead to how they can adapt to succeed in the future. 

Members of Shrewsbury BID came together for the group’s annual meeting recently to discuss how the town had reacted, firstly in the wake of the devastating floods in February, and then the coronavirus outbreak. 

Shrewsbury BID represents more than 500 members and is governed by a board of voluntary directors, predominantly made up of business owners, who oversee the group’s work to help the town centre flourish. 

BID Chair, Mike Matthews, of The Prince Rupert Hotel, said 2020 had been very tough but Shrewsbury’s businesses continually rose to the challenge. 

He said: “I think 2020 has been the most challenging year in living memory, but what stood out for me was the way that everyone came together to help each other through – from cleaning up after the floods, to finding a way to safely reopen following the coronavirus lockdown. 

“The whole aim of the BID is to support businesses and help to create an environment where business can flourish, by working with local and national government and lobbying on our members’ behalf when necessary. 

“I have always been proud to be Chair of Shrewsbury BID, but never more so than during the past year when everyone truly rose to the occasion to help Shrewsbury back to its feet and allowed us all to look forward to a safe and successful future.” 

Two new directors have been appointed to the BID board – Mark Barrow, executive director for place at Shropshire Council, and Alexis Hill, of the DiTella Group, which owns The Loopy Shrew, Darwin’s Kitchen and Darwin’s Townhouse. 

Alexis Hill, Mike Matthews and Mark Barrow

From left: Alexis Hill, Mike Matthews and Mark Barrow.

Mark said he was keen to help the BID in its work to support the development of the town centre to keep it fresh, diverse, economically-balanced and a great place to live, work or spend leisure time. 

He said: “We need to keep working together to create a great experience where there are opportunities for people to do different things, such as retail, leisure, food and drink, as well as making more of the river and natural environment. 

“One of my key aims is to develop and promote Shrewsbury as a destination of choice for both a great day out or an extended break. 

“I am also keen to support the growth in digital infrastructure, such as growing the 5G network, providing free Wi-Fi, and using smart apps for car parking, wayfinding and promoting points of interest. 

“The BID is a thriving group of people working to support business and push for positive change in Shrewsbury town centre and I am pleased to be part of it.” 

Alexis said he was delighted to represent the hospitality and tourism sector on the BID board. 

I am passionate about Shrewsbury as a town for both residents and visitors alike to enjoy,” he saidI hope that during my time as a director I am able to help Seb and his team, along with the other directors, continue their success and champion both the ongoing and future projects of the BID. 

“Given the unprecedented situation that we find ourselves in currently, I hope the BID can continue to support the businesses of the town though these challenging times. 

I hope that relationships between the businesses of the town centre can be strengthened, and new ones forged, to enable Shrewsbury to come out the other side stronger than it ever has been. 

“I also believe we can do more to reduce the carbon footprint of both the businesses and visitors of the town to help make Shrewsbury greener.”