Watford Business
Improvement District (BID) Ltd

A snapshot of our key projects

Launched Visit Watford

In 2019, following extensive research, Visit Watford was formed. Visit Watford is funded via a range of partners, including the BID – and is used to support and deliver the BID’s consumer marketing. The Visit Watford team are based in the BID office and managed on a day-to-day basis by the BID, reporting to their own partnership Board.

Visit Watford undertakes a variety of destination marketing activities for the town including the online promotion of local businesses driving football to increase sales. With strong levels of engagement from over 5,000 followers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, its dedicated website at www.visitwatford.com includes full listings of firms offering a comprehensive range of products and services across the area including town-centre hotels, tourist attractions, cafes, bars and independent retail outlets, along with the latest guide to scheduled cultural, leisure and business events.

Watford Gift Card

In February 2020, the BID launched the Watford Gift Card, which is free to all BID businesses. The programme is designed to lock in additional money for participating businesses and raise awareness of those businesses.

Icons of Watford lamppost banners

The BID commissioned two young Herts designers to create 13 unique designs featuring local Watford landmarks and icons., including Vicarage Road, Anthony Joshua, Bradley Walsh, Graham Taylor and Cassiobury Park. We installed these brightly coloured banners on 72 lampposts in the BID area.

From 2019, we also installed Christmas themed banners to complement and promote our Winter in Watford campaign, supplemented with COVID ‘hands, face, space’ banners for winter 2020.

Supporting town centre development

The continuing development of the town is vital for its economic and social viability, and much of our Chief Executive’s time has been spent working with partners, in particular Watford Borough Council and intu to ensure Watford is a joined-up town, which can be enjoyed and accessed by all.

In 2017, we commissioned a transport study. It was this piece of work that brought together Herts County Council, Watford Borough Council, intu and the developers to resolve how the High Street looked and worked around the new intu extension. We pushed for all High Street works to be completed in tandem with intu works, so there was no further disruption to businesses.

We were also instrumental in securing £4.8m of grant funding for improvements between Watford Junction and the town centre. The first phase included filling in an underpass. Improvements to the crossing were completed in 2019.

Christmas Lights & Switch-On Event

The BID took over festive lights from Watford Borough Council, combining their investment with the BID income meant there was a Christmas light on every (suitable) lamp column in the whole town centre for the first time ever.

For 2019 and 2020, we decided to move away from standard Christmas lighting and invested significantly in spectacular light installations to attract visitors into the town from across the region. These included massive, illuminated baubles, the word ‘WATFORD’ spelled out in giant glowing letters, laser displays, teardrop lights in 32 trees and a giant LED Christmas tree.

We hosted a Christmas lights switch on event, which was attended by over 10,000 people in 2019. The switch-on event included live entertainment throughout the day to drive footfall into our town centre on a Sunday afternoon & evening.

Watford Food & Drink Week

Watford Food & Drink Week is an annual celebration of culinary offerings available in the town centre. The BID encourages local restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, pubs, bars, clubs and retailers to take part and create unique offers and activities over the week. These are promoted in and around the Watford area via 35,000 free brochures which are door dropped to households and businesses, a dedicated microsite, POS materials, an extensive radio campaign and social media promotions.

Watford in Bloom

Each summer Watford BID arrange and maintain eye catching floral displays, adding colour and vibrancy to Watford town centre. The displays include cubes and three-tiered planters along the High Street, baskets across The Pond and The Parade underpass, pole baskets on lampposts in various locations and we provide businesses with hanging baskets.

Winter in Watford

To celebrate the winter festivities, Watford BID co-ordinate the Winter in Watford campaign which brings together Watford Palace Theatre, Watford Colosseum, intu Watford and Watford Borough Council’s activities into a single marketing campaign. The BID organises the town centre’s Christmas lights and supports St Mary’s Church Christmas Tree festival. A dedicated site http://www.winterinwatford.com/ is used to promote all activities taking place during the winter months.

Service Excellence Awards

The Watford BID Service Excellence Awards celebrate the organisations in Watford town centre that provide excellent service to their customers and clients. From the independents and multinationals the Watford BID Service Excellence awards honour the excellent work businesses and their staff do. The categories include: Bank & Building Society, Bar, Café & Coffee Shop, Community & Voluntary, Estate Agent, Hair & Beauty, Leisure, Live Music Venue, Night Club, Professional Services, Pub, Restaurant & Hotel, Independent Retailer and National Retailer. To keep up to date with the latest on the Service Excellence Awards click here.

Watford Weekender

During our Watford Weekenders, we bring local businesses together to collectively promote Watford town centre as a great destination for shopping, dining out, leisure and business. BID businesses are encouraged to run special offers, discounts and events. All of which are promoted on a dedicated microsite, listed in the Watford Weekender brochure which is distributed to Watford households, POS materials, a marketing campaign and social media promotions.

Shopmobility

Watford BID supports Shopmobility and its services. Shopmobility is a local charity based on the ground floor of CitiPark’s Church car park. It loans manual and battery powered wheelchairs and scooters to anyone with mobility issues for free.

Purple Flag

The BID attends Pubwatch meetings and supports the work of the night time economy in retaining the town’s Purple Flag award.

Employee App

The Watford BID app is an exclusive rewards app for Watford town centre employees. The app features unique offers from local businesses for BID business employees. Not sure if you work at a BID business? Click here to see a map of the BID area. If you’re place of work is located in this are then you are eligible for Watford BID app.

Get the app

Download the free app from Google Play or App store.

First time users will need to sign up with a unique Business Code - details of which you can get from your employer.

If you are a BID business and require a code for you staff please contact enquiries@watfordbid.co.uk.

Offer rewards

Businesses within and outside of the BID area can offer rewards.

If you are interested in offering rewards on the app, please contact enquiries@watfordbid.co.uk.

Watford Business Against Crime

Watford BID took over the Watford Business Against Crime (WBAC) scheme in April 2017, after it previously sat under the Watford & West Herts Chamber of Commerce. It’s an information sharing scheme which aims to reduce retail crime and anti-social behaviour throughout Watford town centre. For more information click here.

Designated Driver

During the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Watford BID in partnership with CitiPark ran a campaign to promote responsible drinking. Designated drivers parking in CitiPark car parks during the matches could claim free soft or hot drinks at several establishments across the town centre.

Imagine Watford

The BID supports the annual outdoor arts festival which is programmed by Watford Palace Theatre featuring spectacular performances by a number of international theatre companies. The weekend event is free and takes place across the High Street. For more information click here.

Business Improvement & Support Grant

A grant scheme was introduced to help businesses develop and improve their business and improve the quality of the customer’s experience. The maximum grant available was £2,000 or 50% of the total costs. In total, over £18,000 was awarded to businesses in the town. Grants ranged from £316 to £2,000, and covered improving equipment at a live music venue, to shop front and signage improvements, to businesses re-configuring their internal layout, and improving/or developing their online presence.

Car Park Improvements

We work to improve entry points in the town. Working with CitiPark and the Watford Borough Council we improved lighting, paving and CCTV surveillance at Gade car park.

B2B Networking events

The BID hosts Business to Business networking events which are open to the BID businesses and businesses in and around Watford. We also use this opportunity to share news about the town centre and also provide workshops.