Space in our centres is precious. I’m not talking about empty retail units but space for people, space for street furniture, space for trading and space for promoting products and services for companies such as Coca Cola, Virgin, the next chocolate bar or next soft drink to the market place.

With businesses jostling for exposure in high footfall areas and place managers trying to maintain a pleasurable centre for people to enjoy and linger, it’s essential that everyone, including the wider business, visitor and resident community, get the best value and retail experience from usage of that space.

I’ve been managing promotional space and brand awareness spaces in town and city centres for many years. I know this area of place management well and I believe that those identifying spaces for business promotion and those who want to promote their products in our centres should do so responsibly. Sadly, there are cases where a far from ethical approach is being adopted.

My key motivation in running my business is client satisfaction, combined with my enthusiasm for all elements of place management. Therefore, I steadfastly ensure that all involved in using and offering high street space carefully consider the unique needs of every town and city.


The first concern should be that the company is promoting products and services that are suitable for all of the people who are going to be exposed to the promotion. Consideration should be given to the vulnerable people in our communities who could be damaged by use of the product. Recently I heard about homeless people being given cans of beer during a town centre promotion with one rough sleeper claiming that he had been given not one can of beer but a “trolley full”

Next consideration is if the space is being used legally. In the same beer- based example, the alcohol was being given away without the permission of the Council’s Licensing Department or the City Centre Team.

Another tip would be, don’t feel duty bound or obliged to allow charities access to your space for free. Some of those who use town centre space are commercial operators who have budget for this. If unsure, just pick up the phone and give me a call and I’ll advise you accordingly.

Finally consider the financial imperative for offering the space for promotion. Some companies will pay for using space, yet, I hear that this often happens without any payment to the BID or Council. Never allow this please call us and we will advise you on how to negotiate the right outcome. This advice I’m always happy to offer for free as I loathe the idea of our places being exploited.

Eighteen months ago, there was a flurry of discussion about the commercialisation of our high streets.   This seems to have disappeared from headlines but I’m all for towns and cities using a commercial approach to identifying unrestricted income. To this end, I’m always adding place management services that can offer a clear return on investment to PinPointer’s range of services.

That last sentence was my brief business pitch but as a professional with a deep-routed level of concern and passion for place, call me please and I will ensure that, whether you use PinPointer services or not, your place gets the best return on investment for that precious space in your place.

Have a profitable month using space to add vibrancy to your place! x

Read the full magazine here: Place Magazine – Issue 13

Alison Bowcott-McGrath

Founder and Managing Director of PinPointer and Revive & Thrive’s Ambassador for Places

M : 07870 176949 | E: | T: @PinPointerUK

Building 8, Exchange Quay, Salford, Greater Manchester, M5 3EJ