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Retailers to join a chamber cluster

EMMA BAILEY
Last updated 05:00 07/03/2014

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After 30 years the Timaru Retail Association is no more, but the South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce has formed a retail cluster to absorb former members.

In February the association began considering winding up due to a lack of interest. Chamber chief executive Wendy Smith offered the association the opportunity to disestablish and instead become a retail cluster within the chamber, which it has taken up.

Former association chairman Keith McRobie and Mrs Smith were optimistic that retailers would take up the opportunity.

"The TRA is encouraging former members to join up to the new cluster to ensure that retailers in the region still have a common voice and can together enhance the very strong retail proposition within South Canterbury.

"The chamber board is very keen for this group to go ahead, so has agreed to offer a short-term $100 discount on chamber membership fees to encourage retailers to sign up," Mrs Smith said.

"We're proposing that it's run in a similar way to our other cluster groups and we do encourage the members of these groups to get involved with all the chamber activities."

The chamber already has several cluster groups that focus on industry sectors.

The new retail cluster will have an advisory committee who will create some guidelines.

The cluster will include training and support, taking part in the chamber's table-top expo, co-ordinated communication of promotional opportunities and advocacy on behalf of the cluster on matters of significance such as earthquake-prone buildings and central city planning.

Chamber staff will be approaching the retailers to recruit members.

The retail association had a membership fee of $150 a year, and represented about 70 different retail outlets, ranging from small local businesses to national chains.

However, a core of about 10 members did most of the work.

In the last few years, the association had advocated on behalf of the Stafford St shopping area in the wake of development proposals for a "big box" retail precinct on Showgrounds Hill.

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- The Timaru Herald

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