What no fish? Millthorpe Students research what new businesses would succeed on Bishopthorpe Road

Students from Millthorpe School have been finding out about the real world of retail by carrying out their own market research on Bishopthorpe Road. Over 50 students visited the popular parade of shops to speak to shoppers and retailers as part of a GCSE Business Studies project to identify what type of new business would have the best chance of success. They concluded that the most likely to net customers is a fishmonger.

Mr Bates, Assistant Headteacher and Business Studies teacher, said

‘It is much better that the students are able to learn about starting up a new business by experiencing some of the actual processes they would need to go through in real life. We selected Bishopthorpe Road not just because it is close to the school but also because it is an excellent example of a group of successful independent businesses. All of the shop owners and local residents have been extremely supportive of the students and there is a genuine community feel.’

The students, aged 14 and 15, counted the number of customers and passing trade, spoke to the business owners about their businesses and surveyed customers and local residents. They reported a thriving high street and were surprised with the full car park on a weekday morning. The students’ findings included a passing trade of 55 people in 10 minutes, which students extrapolated to identify a busy parade with a passing trade of 330 people per business hour, and a footfall of 156 per hour for the Pig and Pastry.

Ellie Enwright, Year 10 pupil at Millthorpe School, said: ‘Many people commented on a friendly and unique road.’ Duke Witter and Kelsey Rae, also in Year 10, reported that local residents prefer the shops on Bishopthorpe Road because the businesses are independent and run by local people. The class concluded that ‘the secret of Bishopthorpe Road’s success is that it is at the heart of the local community, providing local residents with the products and services they want.’

The students also asked how Bishopthorpe Road could be improved and where there was a gap in the market for a new business. Josh Allenby, Year 10, said that customers would like free WiFi on the street and repairs to the pavement. Overwhelmingly, people said that a fishmonger was most needed on the road, with 40% of the 107 people asked responding that this would be most successful. Other popular responses included a Post Office and a bank.

Chair of Bishy Road Traders, Johnny Hayes, was enthusiastic about the project.

“It was positive on a number of levels” he commented. “The information the students have produced is of genuine interest to the traders but it is also good to have a new generation of people learning about how to establish a successful retail business. Hopefully it will foster some local entrepreneurs for the future.”

The School and the Traders have more collaborative projects in the pipeline, including traders sharing their business experiences with students.