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Wigtown Booktown initiative: an evaluation – final report


The Wigtown Booktown Initiative aimed to regenerate Wigtown, through establishing book-related businesses, upgrading properties, organising events and attracting additional visitors. The evaluation aimed to: review the operation and performance of the Initiative; assess its qualitative impact; assess Wigtown’s economic environment; identify key skill needs in the business sector; determine new business opportunities; assess the financial sustainability of Wigtown Booktown Company; and recommend changes to the Wigtown Development Company.


The methodology consisted of: desk research; interviews with book-related traders and other businesses; telephone interviews with a local property developer, public agencies, Solway Heritage, Wigtown Booktown Company staff and the Head of Chamber of Commerce at Haye on Wye; and web-based research on other European booktowns.


In overall terms, the Booktown Initiative has been a success in stimulating the town’s obvious re-generation and Wigtown has proved to be a good location. Finds that the physical improvements have encouraged private as well as public sector investment. Observes that some businesses have felt the benefits of change, whilst others still struggle to survive, especially within the core book trade. Highlights that most of the ‘front line’ businesses are still marginal, some are not viable and all need ongoing support. The staging of events is seen to be important in terms of adding integrity to the Booktown.


Suggests that target setting should be more realistic, marketing and communications should be increased and monitoring systems, including financial controls, should be in place and the results reported regularly. Finds that more investment is required in business development support. Believes that the book trade deserves continuing financial support. Considers that Wigtown needs more time to consolidate upon all that has been achieved to date. Recommends that the supporting infrastructure needs to be developed and the retail base needs to be widened sympathetically.

Author The Market Specialists
Published Year 2009
Report Type Evaluation
  • Business infrastructure
    Area regeneration
  • Enterprise
    Entrepreneurship/new firm formation
  • Sectors