Harpur Centre Shortlisted for two Prestigious Industry Awards


Samantha Laycock along with her team have made the shortlist for this year’s Sceptre Awards, being nominated for both Centre Manager of the Year and Community Initiative of the Year.

The Sceptre Awards nationally recognise the best practice and the best people in the shopping centre industry. They are the pre-eminent accolades, putting the spotlight on management teams, retailers and suppliers that demonstrate real excellence.

Due to her efforts and tireless work for both the centre and the town this past year, Samantha has been shortlisted for Shopping Centre Manager of the Year at the 2021Sceptre Awards due to take place this November. Samantha has worked at Harpur Centre for fourteen years and is also Chair of Bedford BID and Chair of the Town Deal Board. For International Women’s Day, she was chosen as one of NatWest Bank’s 100 inspiring women!

Following Samantha’s successful bid, Bedford was granted £22.6million to drastically improve the area for the local community. Her goal has always been to make Bedford an amazing place to live and visit and ensure it stays that way long into the future.

Samantha responded quickly and effectively to the pandemic to allow the essential stores to trade and keep everyone safe. She worked throughout to provide good service, implemented one way systems and minimise waiting times and by offering her out of hour service to tenants to assist with their reopening preparations to ensure they didn’t miss any trade.

She got creative, implementing several out of the box initiatives including working with a tenant to use floristry to create barriers for the one-way system, saving plants which would be destroyed and creating vibrancy in the Centre.

The Centre bucked the trend, seeing four units go under offer during lockdown. Samantha is proud to say that the number of tenants in the scheme will be greater than before the pandemic began.  These new offerings will create an enhanced tenant mix and aid to further increase footfall and dwell time.

As well as Samantha’s incredible individual achievement, the centre has also been shortlisted for Community Initiative of the Year, celebrating the success of their community campaigns over the past twelve months. Their campaign was centred around a celebration of local and national hero Sir Captain Tom Moore and our amazing NHS and keyworkers by installing a mural in tribute, sending the message that we are truly ‘stronger together.’

For Captain Tom’s 101st birthday, The Harpur Centre team walked101 laps of the Centre in branded t-shirts to raise money for The Captain Tom Foundation. The community initiative was a huge success, reaching 100% of their target on the Just Giving page for the foundation and a further £300 in donations were made throughout the day with branded charity buckets. They were joined by the Centre’s gym Energie Fitness, who dressed in inflatable dinosaur suits and motivated the team with warmup activities. The event injected some much-needed positivity into a difficult lockdown.

To honour Sir Tom’s legacy, the Centre installed a giant yellow heart tying in with the national #LoveForTheLost campaign to raise awareness and honour loved ones lost due to coronavirus. The heart was placed by Sir Tom’s mural to show our support of those in our community who had been devastated by the pandemic.

The message behind Sir Tom Moore’s campaign was to support and give thanks to the NHS, which resonated with the community and nation as a whole, in this spirit, they gathered messages from the local community to create a Valentine’s card for Bedford Hospital. The Ward Manager said, “We all found the messages so uplifting, just what we needed...although they caused a few tears, they were all happy ones.”

Samantha Laycock, Harpur Centre Manager, commented: “For us just to be shortlisted in one category, let alone two, is outstanding and it wouldn’t have happened without the incredible team here at the centre who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic, supporting myself, our shoppers, and the retailers through a very trying year. I am exceptionally proud of the team and our marketing company for their efforts in delivering such a successful campaign that truly resonated with us and the local community.”


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