2017 success boost to business

City of Culture launch is a phenomenal success – but is everyone making the most of the 2017 opportunity?

No-one expected it to be this big.

But with an estimated 340,000 people pouring into Hull to see the amazing Made In Hull launch event, City of Culture organisers have been bowled over by the sheer scale and enthusiasm with which the people of Hull and beyond have embraced 2017. And, of course, more people descending on the city to watch the In With A Bang fireworks and Made In Hull illuminations means more customers for Hull’s many shops, cafes and restaurants.

The year has indeed started with a bang for those Hull businesses eager and willing to cash in on the City of Culture dividend.

KCOM customer Dee Laud, manager of Furley & Co, in Princes Dock Street, said her bar had done “phenomenal” business throughout the first week of January.

“It’s been brilliant,” she said. “We’ve been packed every night with people coming in for a drink or a bite to eat. We’ve kept the kitchen open late all week to cope with demand. The other bars and restaurants down the street have all been saying the same, it’s been a great start to the year. It’s just really nice to see this street packed with people. It’s usually quite a quiet thoroughfare. If they can keep this up all year it will be great for business. It’s buzzing.”

Susan Carver, of Hull’s famed Bob Carver’s fish and chip shop, said the new year upturn has been a welcome relief after a year of upheaval with the £25m urban realm works taking place across Hull city centre. At its height there were 3,142 orange barriers sectioning off large areas of the city, causing a national shortage of barriers and complaints from traders about plummeting footfall. She said:

“They were queuing all the way round the corner and it was so nice to see. We had such a terrible year last year with the public realm works and the barriers. We really struggled. But it's been busy ever since New Year's Day and we've now decided to stay open until 9pm for the rest of the week. We normally close around 4ish. Let's hope it carries on."

New Humber Street tapas restaurant Ambiente, in Hull’s rapidly emerging cultural quarter, is also reporting brisk business.

“We’ve been packed all week, which is brilliant, unexpected but a nice surprise,” said general manager Rob Scott-South. "I had to turn 60 customers away at the door last night because we were full. The hardest challenge we’ve found is getting enough staff to meet demand. If seven people walked in now I’d give them a job. They’d have to be the right people of course, but we’ve been rushed off our feet.”

The Made In Hull boost comes at a time when the economic tide seems to be turning in Hull.

In the same week Hull celebrated the start of its reign as the UK’s cultural capital, the first vast container ship containing wind turbine components manufactured at Siemens’ Alexandra Dock factory set sail into the Humber.

The 16,000-tonne Sea Challenger carried with it four huge towers, 12 blades and four turbine nacelles destined for the Dudgeon windfarm 30 miles off the Norfolk coast; symbolising of Hull’s rebirth as a green energy industrial city.

Hull celebrates its rebirth © Thom Arran

Getting the most out of 2017: free event for local businesses

But with some businesses still shutting up shop too early to capitalise on the 2017 crowds, one business coach says some traders are failing to make the most of the “unprecedented opportunity”. To help prevent some businesses from missing out, Ros Jones, of international business consultancy ActionCoach, is to hold a free workshop at the Hallmark Hotel, in North Ferriby, on Thursday 26 January.

Ms Jones believes not enough Hull businesses are fully prepared for 2017. Speaking to the Hull Daily Mail she said:

“There is so much potential among Hull businesses at the moment. There is an amazing entrepreneurial spirit in Hull and it's always had its unique industries, from caravan manufacture to food and creatives. However, the prospect of Hull City of Culture 2017 is really giving this native flair a shot in the arm, and we're seeing a range of new start-ups emerging, in sectors like food and drink, leisure and tourism and, of course, the arts."

With the final visitor figures for Made In Hull still to roll in, it is hoped that the local business community will continue to reap the rewards of Hull’s year in the national spotlight. It is a most welcome fillip after the struggles of 2016 as the city embraces what will hopefully be a golden future.

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