Aberdeen’s largest shopping malls and city retailers have added their weight to the Back the BID campaign to ensure Aberdeen Inspired can continue working on behalf of the city centre as it recovers from the pandemic.

In line with Scotland’s other BIDs, Aberdeen Inspired must ballot the businesses within the BID footprint including local shops, bars, restaurants, property owners, landlords and shopping centres every five years.

The managers of Union Square, Bon Accord Aberdeen and the Trinity Shopping Centre said the need for a dedicated focus on recovery was more vital than ever before, with consumer confidence key to bringing shoppers back into the city centre.

Craig Stevenson, centre manager at Bon Accord Aberdeen, said the closure of long-standing department stores was “devastating” for Aberdeen’s city centre.

“After a year of unprecedented challenges for the high street and the devastating permanent closure of long-established Aberdeen stores such as John Lewis and Debenhams, the need for a dedicated focus on helping the city centre to recover from the pandemic is more critical than ever before,” he said.

“We work very closely with Aberdeen Inspired and support its work to encourage people to feel safe and excited about returning to the shops, restaurants, bars, museums and other attractions that will bring vibrancy back to the city centre. Busy streets and shopping centres will help us to attract new brands as we recover from months of enforced closures.

“Events such as the Christmas Village, the international street art festival Nuart and Restaurant Week are absolutely vital to increase footfall, while initiatives such as Alive After Five encourage shoppers and workers to stay for longer and enjoy the night-time economy.

“On behalf of Bon Accord, I encourage other levy payers to use their vote positively in June and back the BID.”

Linda Stewart is general manager at the Trinity Shopping Centre. She said: “We commend the work Aberdeen Inspired has done to date, particularly the fantastic Nuart project, and it’s so important that we continue to have Aberdeen Inspired to work in conjunction with the city council and other partners.

“We want to bring the life back into the city centre for everyone who lives and visits here, especially around Union Street as our main street, and it’s great to see work on Union Terrace Gardens and the west end and the emerging café culture.

“Now we have lost our major department stores it’s even more important to support the daytime economy as well as night-time and create reasons for people to come back into town to go shopping and for lunch or coffee. It’s vital that the team at Aberdeen Inspired are there to help us bring vibrancy back to our city centre.”

Ryan Manson, general manager at Union Square, said restoring confidence and supporting businesses was essential.

“The last year has been undeniably tough but has also really highlighted the importance of community and supporting one another. As restrictions ease and Aberdeen comes to life once again, Aberdeen Inspired's work to create an experience to be proud of in the heart of our city is more important than ever,” he said.

“The future of Aberdeen is as a destination and one where people are excited to work, shop, eat and play. The BID proposal plays an important role in the transformation of the city by restoring confidence; supporting businesses; bringing people back to our city centre and building an Aberdeen fit for the future.”

Stuart Milne, general manager at Finnies jewellers and chair of the Greater George Street Traders Association, said Aberdeen Inspired had been very supportive of the independent firm and other businesses located around George Street.

“I'm absolutely sure that when we get through these dark days of the pandemic, the BID will be more useful than ever to us in getting through the problems that all high street businesses are facing and may continue to face for some time,” he said. “Even in these very difficult pandemic times, the need for a BID is probably greater than ever.

“Aberdeen Inspired is run by a very special team which has been recognised nationally and internationally in Europe, so we can be assured that the continuation will be in the safest of hands.

“Previously, we had city centre traders associations, but they never really had budgets to spend on promotional activities, which is the strong point of the BID. It has its own budget to support businesses, joint projects and promotional activities to bring people to the city centre,” he said.

“In these days where the news of the high street is very sad indeed, we're going to need all the help that we can get. I believe the continuation of the BID will be a worthy investment in our own future and Aberdeen Inspired’s connections which help bring funding for important projects will be invaluable. On behalf of the management team at Finnies, we urge other levy payers to vote positively this month. In our view, it really is a no-brainer.”

Aberdeen Inspired was established to attract, sustain and boost investment in Aberdeen’s city centre for the benefit of its levy payers and all those who live, work, shop and visit there.

The BID brought in an additional £2million in other funding in 2020, almost double what is collected by levy. An achievement that would not have been possible without Aberdeen Inspired, it means that for every £1 of levy collected, at least £2 is invested in the city centre.

The average levy equates to around £5 per week - at just 1% of rateable value, it is the lowest in the country.

In recognition of the challenging times faced by businesses as a result of the pandemic, the levy in Aberdeen would be reduced by half in the first term (2021-22), dropping to just 0.5% of rateable value for the first year.   

The BID footprint covers Union Street and the surrounding streets, including Broad Street, Market Street, Bridge Street, Huntly Street and Holburn Junction.

Eligible businesses have until 5pm on June 24 to have their say in the ballot.