Olympic flame may offer vital boost to Herald and Gazette businesses

With less than two weeks before the arrival of the Olympic flame in the Herald and Gazette area, businesses are preparing for what could provide a vital economic boost.

Thousands of residents are expected to pack the streets of Worthing, Littlehampton and Shoreham when the torch arrives on the afternoon of Monday, July 16, in celebration of the once-in a lifetime event.

It follows in the wake of hugely-successful Queen’s diamond jubilee celebrations that have offered retailers, cafés and bars throughout the area a much-needed lift as the bumper series of major summer events continues.

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Beyond the wide range of stores selling Olympic-themed merchandise, there have already been a number of business successes surrounding the build-up to the games.

There have been nearly 100 contracts signed with firms within the county from a broad spectrum of industries.

Among the notable triumphs are Worthing-based Penton UK, which has supplied public address systems to a host of major venues throughout the country.

The globally-renowned firm, which has previously won a Herald and Gazette business award for industry, has secured a contract for the games.

However, details are not being released for commercial reasons, which have seen restrictions placed on companies speaking about their work in connection with the Olympics, until the conclusion of the two-week event, which starts on July 27.

Penton has already played its part in supplying audio equipment for the upgraded St Pancras train station, which is vital within the Games’ transport infrastructure.

Other companies reported to have gained Games contracts include Goring-based Bond International for its human resources services, plus Simpson Electrical in Worthing, which has been involved with a number of projects surrounding delivery and installation work in London for the Olympic Village.

Tina Tilley, of Worthing and Adur Chamber of Commerce, expressed cautious optimism surrounding the torch’s eagerly-anticipated arrival in the area.

While recognising the economic picture continues to be tough for many businesses, she believed the flame’s arrival could have potential to spark a sales boost. She called on companies to get involved in celebrations as much as possible. “This is an opportunity for businesses to make as much as possible out of this event and we would encourage people to enjoy the atmosphere of it,” said the chief executive, who welcomed the achievements of firms that had excelled in gaining work associated with the Olympics.

Sharon Clarke, Worthing’s town centre manager, felt the torch would have an extremely positive impact.

She said: “We are hoping thousands of people are going to turn out for the flame next month.

“A lot of people have approached us and are excited about what is going to be a once-in a lifetime experience.

“We’ll be providing entertainment with a BMX display before the torch is here around 4.45pm – which is actually a good time for us as schools will be out meaning families can celebrate together.

“We’ll also be putting a big TV screen up in South Street square so that people can come out and do their shopping and will be able to watch the Games in town.

“Sometimes, footfall can drop when there are major events so we hope this will help that.

“Businesses are all geared up for it so there’s a lot of positivity out there.”

Nigel Lynn, chief executive of Arun District Council, added: “The Olympics torch relay as it comes through the district will help bring a feelgood factor to residents and businesses in the area.

“It is another opportunity to highlight Arundel, Bognor Regis and Littlehampton as a destination for visitors and businesses to invest.

“With the Airfield Park project and St Modwen, there are many projects already being developed which will help boost the area’s economy and job opportunities.

“The national and regional spotlight during the torch relay will also highlight the beauty of the Arun district and positively encourage firms to come to the area.”