Saturday, 14 September 2013

Brand Southwold

Helping Londoners feel at home....
Why is Southwold so successful? Why are other seaside resorts failing? It's certainly not short of a few quid, just look through the estate agent windows lining the high street.  There are very few houses or should that be beach huts under £500,000. How do the locals manage? 

Porsche, BMW and Range Rover are the preferred modes of transport. The Chairman of the Southwold and Reydon Society recently stated in the Daily Telegraph that Range Rovers were hardly ever seen in Southwold....What? Southwold attracts all classes not just the filthy rich, famous and celebrity culture. 

Like swallows heading to warmer climes city dwellers head here in their droves to take up their billets for the pre-requisite two weeks in this seaside resort. Who actually lives in Southwold once all the holiday makers disappear? I have been to Southwold for over 40 years and I've never seen so many properties that have become holiday lets. Many moons ago even the dustbin men owned houses on the green. Ginger was a typical example and local trawler skippers graced the Red Lion keeping a beady eye on the outsiders. Nowadays, the majority of workers travel in from the outlying areas much like those in Korea who travel from the South into the North.

A few months ago the good folk of Southwold got very hot under their ever so well starched collars when the council announced that Costa Coffee was about to set up shop! Anybody would have thought that the Martians had finally arrived based on the not so complimentary feedback. For those of you who have not ventured into the untamed backwaters of Suffolk For many years Southwold has re-buffed any attempt by 'high street' retailers to even make it up the beach let alone up the street. Some such as Fat Face, Co-Op and unbelievably Tesco Express have made it over Gun Hill.

Soon to be replaced by SeaLink
Unlike the majority of seaside destinations Southwold is blessed with so many exclusive brands and an overwhelming range of points of interest including Adnams, The Swan Hotel; a lighthouse; a pier; a putting green; a boating lake; a golf course; a tennis court; a theatre; a cinema; a harbour; numerous pubs; fish and chips; pricey antique shops; numerous coffee shops and restaurants.  

Why should the people of Southwold be so upset by the introduction of Costa. Is it anything to do with the 1,200 stores across our country or the fact that they might attract the wrong type of person to the town? Interestingly, it has nothing to do with quality, ethics, training of baristas and shock horror it has nothing to do with price. It is all to do with the brand and protecting that brand as much as possible. The majority of us like a bit of variety and what could be more boring than having the same group of shops repeated in every shopping centre. Nothing to do with blinkered, snooty opinions. Just good business sense. I have to admit that I didn't step over the Costa threshold to enjoy a Flat White. Nothing to do with my conscience....Costa just isn't my brand.....honest. It will be interesting to see how long Costa will remain in the town. 

For me a good cup of coffee is like a good bar of chocolate and I'm affraid to say there are very few places in Southwold that actually provide a good coffee. Prices and quality of said beverage vary alarmingly. Surprisingly the best cup of coffee is to be found at The Black Dog, Walberswick. Probably the smallest deli in Suffolk. They also sell the cheapest croissants in the area.

However, Southwold is in danger of killing off the proverbial goose that laid the golden egg. Many restaurants in both Walberswick and Southwold are in my opinion are overpriced and provide indifferent levels of service. Well, that's another story. Long live the brand!

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