Business Boost | 27 April 2017 - by KCOM

Hull gets “sexy” as businesses continue to reap culture benefits

The City of Culture celebrations bring boom time for city centre retail and leisure businesses.

Hull is continuing to reap the rewards of being the UK City of Culture.

As record numbers of visitors continue to pour into the city centre, cash registers are ringing for businesses looking to capitalise on Hull’s new “sexy” status.

And as yet another headline-grabbing show, Spencer Tunick’s Sea of Hull, takes centre stage at the Ferens Art Gallery it seems Hull’s upward trajectory is set to continue.

It is believed more than 6,500 people flooded into Hull for the Sea Of Hull launch – as part of the Ferens’ Skin exhibition - meaning the city’s hotels were packed to capacity.

With more than 10,000 people flocking to see the show in its first weekend many more potential customers made their way into Hull as part of the latest wave of interest in City of Culture events.

Kathryn Shillito, manager of the Hull Business Improvement District which covers the city centre, says the city is enjoying a renaissance after all the upheaval of the urban renewal work that has taken place in the past 18 months.

She said: “The city centre has seemingly become the ‘sexy’ place to be. Buoyed by the overwhelming positivity around City of Culture, there is an unprecedented interest in places and spaces which may have previously been under-recognised. 
“The effect on business has been extremely satisfying with the food and beverage sector particularly enjoying bumper numbers and recouping some of their lost earnings from the disruptions of 2016.  Retailers are benefiting from visitors meandering around the city to take in activities and attractions with more dwell time spent as those visitors make a day of their visit.” 

Kathryn added that the ongoing development of Hull city centre is also helping to generate more interest among visitors and providing new and exciting leisure and retail opportunities in the city.

She said: “There’s much excitement around all the new developments taking shape. St Stephens is brimming with new activity-based units. Humber Street is fast becoming the go-to place and the new DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel and the conference and music venue are beginning to dominate the skyline. 

“Princes Quay’s designer outlet is preparing for a summer opening and the city has seen an upturn in niche businesses taking empty units with Dr Martens leading the way with its funky footwear.”

City of Culture got off to a flying start with more than 342,000 people turning out to witness the spectacular Made In Hull launch event in the first week of 2017 alone.

The bumper beginning reflects a general leap in city centre footfall throughout the first three months of 2017.

Hull City Council has revealed the Ferens Art Gallery and Maritime Museum have both seen unprecedented visitor numbers with both Victoria Square venues exceeding their annual targets in just a couple of months. The new Humber Street Gallery has also welcomed 60,000 visitors in its first seven weeks.

Increasing economic activity in Hull is also reflected in the Hull City Council’s annual local economic assessment report.

According to the report, which is a handy guide to levels of entrepreneurship in the city, there were 5,815 firms active in Hull in 2016, compared to 4,980 in 2011.

And with big tickets events such as Paul Heaton at KCOM Craven Park, Jeff Lynne’s ELO at the KCOM Stadium and Radio One’s Big Weekend at Burton Constable Hall all still to happen, there is no shortage of reasons for more people to discover Hull’s many hidden delights.