Support for independent traders across Horsham district

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Help is at hand for independent traders across the Horsham district.

Horsham District Council has received funding to deliver a training and support programme for independent retailers.

It is clear that this is a critical time for high street retail with much needing to change for retailers to remain viable in the future

The training will focus on improving their customers’ experience as local retailers adapt to rapidly changing consumer buying habits.

The council has commissioned retail training specialist Chris Billington from Progressive Results Training to deliver what is described as a fully funded Horsham District Independent Retail Training and Support Programme: ‘Your Customer Experience’.

The programme will consist of four key elements:

Facilitated workshops

All of the District’s 200+ independent retailers will be invited to participate in one or more of six workshops offering thought provoking guidance and tips on how to better influence their customers’ experience.

Bespoke rapid improvement sessions

These will be one to one sessions and will take part in the retailer’s own premises. The work will establish ways for the retailer to improve specific performance areas and to ensure that all commercial opportunities are being identified and exploited.

Display enhancement grants

The overall programme includes a grant allocation of £22,000 towards premises improvements for eligible businesses that have taken part in the Bespoke Rapid Improvement Sessions and workshops. Businesses can apply for a match-funding grant to refurbish and improve their shop front and the grant can also be applied to internal improvements such as shop lighting, display fixtures and fittings.

Your Customer Experience Awards – The magnificent seven

The programme will culminate in an awards evening in May 2019 with seven categories for independent businesses in Horsham District. The awards will be judged through a combination of public nominations and expert panel judging.

Commenting on the new retail training programme, Horsham District Council Cabinet Member for the Local Economy Cllr Gordon Lindsay said: “This tailored programme will help our local retailers by taking a fresh look at the experience they offer their customers and find new opportunities in the process.

“Our council is one of five councils across West Sussex offering support to independent retailers, enabled by the County’s Strategic Investment Fund.

“It is clear that this is a critical time for high street retail with much needing to change for retailers to remain viable in the future.

“I encourage as many independent retailers as possible to sign up for this free training and I look forward to seeing the results.”

Chris Billington of Progressive Results Training added: “I have a very down to earth and enabling approach to training and am delighted to be working with Horsham District Council to deliver this fantastic new programme for retailers across the towns and villages of Horsham District.

“I would like to meet and help as many local independent retailers as possible and urge them to sign up for the ‘Your Customer Experience’ workshops and instore training sessions.

This free programme will run from September 2018 to April 2019 at venues across the District.

To book a place email Chris Billington at or call him on 07840392732.

The council says that the retail sector has changed substantially in recent years and businesses face numerous new challenges with online and offline consumer trends evolving constantly.

Add to this that often independents can’t afford primary location rents and are located in secondary shopping or rural areas with lower footfall and trading even more difficult.

Many also lack an effective online presence or simply haven’t had the chance to update their retail skills.

As a consequence many independent retailers both nationally and locally are struggling to survive and compete. It is therefore ever more important for these businesses to build their retailing skills to maximise sales opportunities in today’s environment.

More details on the specific workshops and how to apply for the display enhancement grants will be released in due course. In the meantime, any retail businesses wanting to take advantage of the free skills building opportunities or just to find out a bit more, should contact Chris on or call 07840392732.