‘FOUNDRY factor’ boosts Poole as workspace helps drive up visitor numbers

The ‘FOUNDRY factor’ is driving a regeneration of Poole town centre as an influx of workers to the Dolphin Centre boosts local shops, cafes and restaurants.

FOUNDRY – a £3m development offering co-working space and offices in the Dolphin– has brought 90 businesses and 250 professionals to the town since it opened in May 2023.

BCP Council footfall data shows visitor numbers in February 2024 were 10% higher than in the same month the previous year. Visitors are spending 31% longer on average in Poole town centre than they did five years ago.

Council Leader Cllr Vikki Slade said: “I think Poole is very much on the up and the rethinking of the Dolphin Centre as town centres evolve has been great to see.

“The inclusion of a workspace like FOUNDRY is important to sustain a broad use for the space. More and more people want to access working space outside their home without the overheads of a dedicated office or creative space and I hope its success continues.”

Jacqui Rock, Poole BID (Business Improvement District) Lead, said: “FOUNDRY has brought a welcome influx of entrepreneurialism to the town centre.

“It has established itself as more than a place to work and do business. It’s also a venue for networking, presentations and other events. Entrepreneurs are mixing, forging connections and strengthening the prospects for their businesses to thrive.

“Poole has become the place to be for young and upcoming businesses and the talent within them.”

FOUNDRY Poole– only the second in the UK – is one of a host of new uses being made of town centre space by landlord Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM).

Tony Brown, Chief Executive of NewStart 2020, who brought a Beales department store back to the Dolphin Centre, said: “We’ve definitely seen a significant increase in footfall in the past year and I think FOUNDRY is an important part of that. 

“You can see the business people and staff coming into the centre, especially at lunchtime. They’re spending money in our store and enjoying our in-store branch of Naked Coffee.

“The Dolphin Centre has become not only a shopping centre but a hub for retail, social and health uses.”

John Grinnell, Manager of the Dolphin Centre, said: “The Dolphin Centre is certainly benefiting from a FOUNDRY factor.

“The arrival and growth of FOUNDRY in the past year has brought around 90 businesses and 250 people to the heart of the town. It is the home for networking events, business talks and podcasts.

“All those people are using the shops, cafes, restaurants and the other facilities of the Dolphin Centre and the rest of the town centre.”

Businesses using FOUNDRY have felt the benefits of being in central Poole.

Mark Masters, who runs the business network You Are the Media, said: “Poole is steeped in history in a way that few other towns are, so it gives me a real sense of pride to be part of a thriving business community in my home town.

“My big passion at the moment is how smaller towns can go head-to-head with bigger cities when it comes to building meaningful communities and putting on events that people want to be a part of. That’s why I chose Poole’s Lighthouse for You Are the Media’s annual Creator Day event, happening for the second time in April.

“Poole has never really had this kind of business-to-business environment before but FOUNDRY has been a beacon drawing people to the town.”

Gordon Fong, Director of IT business Kimcell, saw the social media hashtag #InPoole take off after he used it at the You Are the Media Creator Day in 2023.

“On every occasion I’ve visited Poole, it was really refreshing to step out into something that felt vibrant again,” he said.

FOUNDRY offers everything from £119 per month coworking membership to serviced offices. It is based in Brownsea House, a previously unused part of the Dolphin Centre above the bus station.

You can learn more about FOUNDRY Poole at https://www.foundryuk.com/poole

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