6 January 2014

The National Hairdressers’ Federation has been invited to sit on a government think-tank looking at ways to regenerate and revitalise Britain’s high streets.

High streets minister Brandon Lewis asked the NHBF to be one of four new organisations to join the Future High Streets Forum in December.

The forum was set up in February last year [2013] to examine ways to implement high street renewal in the wake of the government’s response to retail entrepreneur Mary Portas’ review of the high street.

It meets quarterly and comprises retailers, including big names such as Costa Coffee, John Lewis Partnership and Tesco, property and business organisations, including the British Retail Consortium, the British Council of Shopping Centres and the Association of Convenience Stores, local councils and the government.

Brandon Lewis said he wanted the NHBF to bring a stronger service sector perspective, arguing the Federation was "a key representative of a sector with a growing presence in our town centres”.

He added: The way we use our high streets is changing and we need to ensure they are places people want to spend their leisure time as well as shop. The Future High Streets Forum is an incredibly important part of the work we are doing to address challenges faced by the high street. And bringing representatives on board from such a variety of places will strengthen its community voice.”

The move puts hairdressing and barbering – and small, independent retailers – right at the heart of the debate about how to stem the drift by shoppers away from town centres to online or out-of-town retailers.

NHBF chief executive Hilary Hall said: “We are delighted we have been asked to join the Future High Streets Forum. Our members are right at the heart of every high street and, as such, can offer a deep insight into what it is local high streets and local communities need.”

The move followed hard on the heels of a raft of initiatives to support UK high streets announced in December, first by chancellor George Osborne in his Autumn Statement and then by communities secretary Eric Pickles (see story below).

The other new members of the forum are the British Beer & Pub Association, the Spirit Pub Company and fast-food giant McDonald’s.