Paul Thompson, Chairman of Southend Seafront Traders Association and owner of Pebbles One kiosk, Marine Parade
IF you look at the entertainment and food business as a whole, such as McDonald’s, they revamped their restaurants and sales have increased dramatically.
We are not moving away from the traditional customer base, but times have moved on and people want something different.
They still want fish and chips, but people expect a bit more these days.
It’s not trying to attract a different clientele – we are improving the offer that is here.
We should encourage more people to come as facilities and amenities are better, more modern and nicer quality.
Possibly the council had the idea of attracting the jet set and Range Rover brigade, but in fact what’s happening is owners are improving their offer and smartening up their businesses.
The same customers want different things – they want better things.
When you do that, it allows you to attract a different type of person as well. By improving the business, you are giving the existing customers better service, but also helping to attract a different clientele who may not have come in the past.
Businesses have to continually reinvent themselves and adapt.
Years ago, at our kiosk, we would sell instant coffee from a machine and sell thousands of cups.
These days we have Coffee Republic coffee. By doing that, not only do I please people here anyway, but if people walking past see it, they think: “That’s a nice coffee brand, I’ll get one.”
Adventure Island is rebranding itself and investing more money with the upgrade of the Sealife Adventure and the lagoon and there is a new casino coming to the Palace Hotel – things are looking up for the businesses.
They are not trying to attract new customers, they are trying to attract them back.
But with the new hotels, there might be new people who haven’t been here before.
Roger Fisher, owner of Doodahs Takeaway, Marine Parade
I DON’T see any problem with improving facilities, but at the same time an awful lot of visitors just want the traditional stuff.
They still come down and want ice cream, fish and chips, burger and chips and a pint of beer.
There is obviously a certain market that will attract people who want to go to upmarket places.
It still seems most of the people come down for a bag of chips and that’s what they want.
People have been seen sitting in a Rolls Royce eating fish and chips on their lap!
People think you should be somewhere posh, eating lobster thermidor. The thing is, if you are going to move upmarket, an awful lot of local people come down and they want a reasonable day at a reasonable cost.
Money is still tight for a lot of people, although some people have plenty. The vast majority of people who come down here still want the traditional seaside element. Most of it is a traditional seaside place and when the weather is nice, people come out in good numbers.
We are here and open all the time, but we are very weather dependent.
Most of the people down here are providing the traditional fare that people come to the seaside for. The airport is helping and I’ve seen an increase in the foreign tourists who are landing at the airport and turning right and coming to Southend rather than going to London.
I don’t see a problem if people want to spend money investing in upmarket places, it’s all well and good. Whether they can get enough people through the door is another matter when the vast number of people come here for the traditional fare.