Incentives offered to attract fresh blood to Aberdeen’s Union Street

Bob Keiller

BUSINESSES taking up empty units on Aberdeen’s Union Street are to be offered perks, including free internet.

Deal sweeteners, including advice on marketing and recruitment, could be offered to would-be Granite Mile traders.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

Why? Free to subscribe, no paywall, daily business news digest.

Our Union Street’s Bob Keiller hopes the offer will help to get occupants for some of the empty premises on the city’s main shopping street.

The taskforce chairman has praised business bosses bringing something to his Union Street welcome party.

So far, Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce has offered a year’s free silver membership. And IFB- Internet For Business is throwing in 12 months’ free web access.

Talks are ongoing with around 10 firms to pull together a wider set of perks, including staff development and shop-design expertise.

“When you put it all together, it would be a really great business support package,” Mr Keiller told the Press & Journal.

“I am really encouraged by local businesses doing this as part of a collective civic duty to make the city centre a better place for everyone.

“If we can create a set of value-adding services, to add to a compelling commercial offering, we can start different conversations with people about relocating onto Union Street.”

It comes soon after Aberdeen City Council approved a £500,000 fund to help cover the cost of refitting empty Union Street shops.

Mr Keiller estimates there are still around 40 empty properties along the Granite Mile.

  • Scottish retailers have called for a review of business rates after reporting the highest number of empty shops in 18 months.

The Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) said the shop vacancy rate worsened in the last quarter to 15.9% – slightly up on the same period last year.

Shopping centre and high street vacancies both rose, with only retail parks seeing a slight improvement.

The SRC described them as “cheerless figures”.

It called on the Scottish Government to reconsider plans to impose an increase in rates in the next budget.

SRC director David Lonsdale told the BBC that “concrete action” was needed from policy makers to keep down the cost of operating premises, with stores in Scotland “missing out” on rates relief available to their counterparts in Wales and England.

He said retailers would be looking to ministers and their tax advisors “to get a grip on the onerous headline business rate and to deliver on the government’s ambition to use business rates to boost business.”

Mr Lonsdale added: “After all, the business rate is at a 24-year high and government forecasters have pencilled in a chunky uplift for next spring which, if implemented, would add £34million to retailers’ rates bills.

“The finance secretary must carefully assess the impact on firms and hard-pressed retail destinations when she comes to set the business rate in the Scottish Budget.”

The latest stories