Leigh Sparks, Chair of Scotland’s Towns Partnership and CSPP board member, talks Singapore, retail development and healthcare. Source: Stirlingretail
Remarkably – well to me anyhow – it has been almost six weeks since I last posted on here. It is not as though things haven’t been happening or that I have not been busy, it is just life has got in the way.
Possibly the biggest time eater has been the Rugby World Cup. I can’t believe it is almostfour years since Wales were robbed of their rightful destiny. This time the rugby has been brilliant and frustrating in equal measures. Some great games, standard Welsh brain freezes and dubious treatment of the so-called Tier 2 nations spring to mind.
Though it had its moments from the start. Japan, South Africa, really!! England almost defying the odds and beating Wales. The Argentinians throughout. England’s early demise shows the retail consequences of sporting failure – mark down doesn’t really do justice to the glut of cheap England memorabilia around. But our local Tesco got it right from the start, and merchandised the Scottish rugby strip in the Halloween section from Day One.
During this period of silence, I have also been back to Singapore to teach and to dress up for graduation and alumni events. it’s always great to see so many old friends and new retail graduates. Singapore itself seems to be trying to assemble the world’s largest collection of cranes and building sites and is apparently intent on turning the island into a Swiss Cheese of tunnels and MRT.
But the speed and quality of development is always deeply impressive. I spent a fascinating day off at Jurong East. I had gone to have a look at the collection of shopping centres built there – the current total is six together I believe – operating as a western hub for the country.
I ended up though fascinated by the way the centres had been inter-connected via it seemed a new hospital. Walkways rather than cars connected the centres. We did not spend a lot of time in the hospital itself, but the description was impressive – all beds with a personal window, inter-connected floors and communications and specialist and community services. What really caught my eye though was the pharmacy and the retail offer in the hospital food court. The food court itself was branded as a Healthy Food Court. Both majored on health and well-being (obvious really) and struck me as the sort of retailing hospitals should have.
Having spent too ,much time in hospitals in Wales in recent years, I have got rather disillusioned with the frankly shocking retail offer presented to patients, their families and visitors. Fast food, sweets by the bucket load, fizzy drinks and fried products make up a generally depressing and unhealthy mix. This seems to be the norm and is sending out entirely the wrong signals about health and well being. And all at rip-off prices. I am sure there are exceptions, but they are that, when they should be the norm.
As in a number of ways, Singapore shows how it should be. Why do we have to put up with such nonsensical retail “support” for our health services?
Image: Leigh Sparks