Keith Newlan, founder of Kings Hill Jewellers and BID Board Member, on what it means for St Albans BID to secure a second term
What does it mean to you that St Albans BID has secured a second term?
It means that we can be assured that someone will be supporting the businesses in St Albans – £2.5m will be invested into promoting our amazing city centre, a level of investment that simply wouldn’t exist without the BID.
In a nutshell, what does St Albans BID do?
It promotes St Albans and supports the city centre business community and helps make St Albans a vibrant city that people will want to come and enjoy.
What initiatives to date are you most proud of?
The Christmas lights were a huge success this year and the unique ‘Gin & Jazz’ event on George Street drew huge numbers and supported local independents. Our series of summer and Christmas Sky TV ads have had a measurable impact and driven footfall as the high street reopened. Alongside the big events, the BID does a huge amount every day – like keeping our streets clean, tidy and looking beautiful, with seasonal flowers and planters.
How difficult has it been to operate and support businesses during the pandemic?
The pandemic put a stop to all the plans we had in our promotional calendar, and we had to act quickly and adapt to support businesses during the scariest time for our High Street. We worked hard to keep businesses informed, letting them know what funding was available and how they could access grants and financial support. Alongside this, we launched online campaigns to encourage people to shop local and ran BID markets to help businesses continue to trade outside.
Despite what we have all lived through over the past couple of years, is St Albans still thriving?
Absolutely. You only have to come and visit, and the town centre is packed. Big brand names and independents are choosing St Albans as a destination to open and we have a fantastic mix of retail and hospitality that makes it a premium destination to live, work and visit.
What plans do you have for the rest of 2022?
For Kings Hill, we are very busy with wedding jewellery as so many people missed out on their big day during the pandemic, and we are also focussing on our pre-owned watch collections, which are increasingly popular as gifts and for collectors.
Do you live in St Albans, and if so, what do you love best about where you live?
Yes, I live locally, and I most love the vibrancy of the city. There’s always something happening, with a great daytime and incredible night-time scene. It’s the city that truly has something for every person and age.
If you had to pick three places you love visiting right now, where would they be?
I love eating at Dylan’s on George Street and L’Italiana on French Row as the food is truly excellent. I also love the clothing at Copperfield’s, because they have an incredibly diverse range of global menswear brands.
We are approaching spring, so where in St Albans do you love heading to outdoors?
The Abbey and Verulamium Park will always be special places where I can enjoy walking with my grandson. The views never tire, and I love how they change with the seasons
Do you have a St Albans secret you are willing to reveal?
The building Kings Hill Jewellers is in is the old Corn Exchange – a beautiful building that first opened in 1857. In the 1920s it was converted into five shop units as it remains today. St Albans has so many secrets and stories to share, however long you live here – there is always something new to discover.