CO-OPERATIVES UK is to host a conference in Manchester to explore the potential for opening small retail outlets at more railway stations around the country.
The conference ? at New Century House on Tuesday September 23rd ? is being organised by the Huddersfield-based Transport Research and Information Network (TRaIN) and delegates will hear from train operator Network Rail and retailers about the opportunities and obstacles of providing retail facilities and more specialist shops on smaller stations.
TRaIN's director Dr Paul Salveson commented: "Larger stations, such as London Waterloo or Manchester Piccadilly, have lots of retail activity, including convenience stores, so there must be scope for providing retail facilities at smaller stations."
The conference will hear about Cooden Beach station ? a small station on the south coast ? which has been transformed through a partnership between the train operator South Central Trains and Costcutter. Station staff sell groceries as well as rail tickets!
"This has proved extremely successful and has changed the economics of staffing stations," said Dr Salveson. "The staff are there in the evening and the entire station feels safe and welcoming. And it has given the local community a useful facility which wasn't there before."
The Manchester conference which will be opened by Co-operatives UK Chief Executive Pauline Green is being supported by TRaIN's sister organisation, ACORP ? the Association of Community-Rail Partnerships. The two bodies are due to merge later this year.
ACORP has been working with the Co-op Movement to identify potential sites for convenience stores in Wales and the West Midlands.
"We hope major retailers involved in convenience store activity such as the Co-op will come along and see what potential there might be," said Dr Salveson.
"Having a shop on a station makes good commercial sense if the location is right and the footfall is sufficient. Not every station is suitable, but we are convinced that around the country there are dozens of potential candidates.
"As well as convenience stores, travel agencies, bookshops and bike hire have worked at some places."
There will be speakers from Network Rail, Wessex Trains, First North Western, Co-operatives UK, Gateway Stations and station-based travel agencies.
For further details of the conference contact TRaIN on 01484 549737 or e-mail: [email protected]