A GROUP of independent businesses have joined forces with ambitions of bringing greater vitality to the town.

The Town Centre Indies will also discuss ways the new Business Improvement District (BID) can help them boost Andover.

At its first meeting, a number of ideas were sparked including special promotions for group members, competitions aimed at children, trails around the town, an indie shops map and a pre-Christmas promotion, possibly with entertainment and street theatre, which has been supported by the BID.

Steve Godwin, BID manager, said he is delighted to have been able to arrange this group to meet and he looked forward to supporting them, adding: “Independent businesses are vital to a town and their passion and dedication often means that they often go the extra mile to ensure success.”

Member Bev Botha, of the Travelling Cupcake, said: “I am delighted to see the BID operational and supporting us, we have great independent businesses in the town, but we are all so busy with the day-to-day running and organisation of our own businesses that we don’t always have time to look forward and plan in advance and we rarely get together to market and promote our businesses collectively.

“BID has come into a town at a time when we are under great pressure and competition, not just from other towns but from a changing trading environment so we need to be on the ball, competitive and attractive to our customers.

“We also hope that the BID will represent us and our ideas and support us when we need a voice particularly as the town centre is developed.”

Lindy Darmanin, from Lindy’s Boutique, has been nominated as chair and the group will meet in a month to consider ideas and projects with the BID to firm up plans.

The BID has to agree a plan and promotional ways that indie shops can be supported.

An indie shop is being defined as an owner-run business, with three outlets or fewer in the centre, which has control and sole responsibility for its branding, marketing, merchandising, staffing and sales.

The group is open to non-levy payers as well as BID members, but only within the BID boundary.