Whitchurch Silk Mill

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Invitation to tender

For the HLF Funded 'Preserving the Fabric Project' (Delivery Phase)

Retail Delivery Brief

1.Background to the "Preserving the Fabric" Project

Whitchurch Silk Mill is the only example in the UK of a historic working silk mill open to the public throughout the year, where visitors can watch skilled workers operating the machinery and then buy something in the shop made from silk woven on site. The vision is for the Silk Mill to be a self-sustaining, living, industrial heritage site that weaves silk and enthrals all who walk through its doors.

The planned capital works will implement a range of urgently needed conservation and access works that will result in a radical improvement to the visitor experience, bringing the history and stories of the site alive and ensuring the Mill meets the expectations of modern visitors. It will also see the extension and alteration of the existing shop, into a new modern welcome building housing the shop and café.

The Development Plan and Stage 2 bid were self-managed by a small Internal Project Management Team with the support of a Steering Group. The Architecture Team, Quantity Surveyor and Interpretation Team who worked with us during the Development Phase will continue through the Delivery Phase. A Project Manager has been appointed for the Capital Delivery Phase. Planning Permission has been granted by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council.

We have been successful in being awarded the Round 2 HLF Grant and we are now at the stage of appointing a Retail Consultant for the Delivery Phase too. A Catering Consultant is also being appointed.

2. Critical Elements of the Project in the Delivery Phase

The architectural brief sets out the following requirements:

· Create an extended visitor welcome building to inspire and entice visitors and passers-by, incorporating ticketing, retail, café and WCs

· Alter the physical layout of the building, so that production operations are more visible

· Improve the visitor experience, with better interpretation, closer access to the machinery and weaving staff, increasing the length and value of the visit

· Develop a walk-through visitor experience, with lift / staircases to enable full and continuous one-direction circulation, with interactive interpretation to bring the story of silk to life

· Improve views of the waterwheel

· Encourage repeat visits by creating a temporary exhibition space to ensure there is always something new for visitors

· Introduce a café and shop before the payment line serving passers-by and visitors to the mill

· Have a café at ground floor level, serving drinks, cakes, refreshments and light lunches with the opportunity to enjoy refreshments in the garden on the banks of the River Test

· Improve the natural heritage and grounds to create better environment, more interest for visitors and provide a flexible, functional landscape for outdoor community and large scale events

· Help to preserve our heritage by providing a stable, environmentally controlled environment and monitoring and managing temperature, humidity and light

· Restore the impact of the mill's original open plan floors

3. Budget and Programme

i. Budget

i.i. Overall

HLF Funding of £1.7 million has already been secured for this project.

We have already invested £150,000 on the Development Phase which culminated in the submission of our successful Stage 2 Bid.

Additionally, we have our own fundraising target of £ 400,000 minimum.

i.ii Delivery Phase Allocation

As a result, we have a budget of £1,802,700 devoted solely to the overall Delivery Phase.

This delivery budget is split into two distinct parts:

· £ 1,613,500 for the Capital Phase

· £ 189,200 for the 3-year Activity Plan

The Capital Phase Budget will provide:

· Construction and fit-out work

· Interpretation Displays, Graphics, Interactives, etc.

· Project Management fees

· Other Specialist fees

ii. Programme

Planning Permission was received in early March, and the window for the Capital Works Project is from end September 2017 to end June 2018. The Activity Plan will then continue until end 2020.

4. PTF Delivery Phase Retail Consultant Role

The role of Retail Consultant will be to work with the Mill Director, Project Manager (on capital elements) and Operations Manager (when appointed) to deliver the Retail Development Plan to deliver the targets established in the Mill's Business Plan 2015 – 2026.

Experience and Qualities:

The successful Retail Consultant will have a proven track record of developing and delivering similar projects for museums, heritage sites and visitor attractions. Successfully supporting HLF funded projects will be a major advantage.

The Consultant is expected to ensure full communication and reporting. Although the focus of the commission is on the retail elements of the project, it is important that the appointee has experience and understanding of both the capital elements of the project and fit-out to enhance full co-ordination between the disciplines.

Overall objective of the appointment:

Retail and the development of a woven silk capsule collection are key to the success of our Preserving the Fabric Project, the Business Plan and the long term sustainability of the Mill. The capsule collection woven on our Victorian looms will be sold to visitors to the Mill, walk-in visitors, online and at other retailers, as an aspiration we would like Liberty of London to stock our scarves! Without the additional revenue and increased spend per head the Mill will not generate sufficient revenue to cover its core operating budget and the increased management and maintenance costs incurred through the project.

As the success of this area is of such strategic importance we will be appointing a full time Operations Manager, in due course, to be responsible for the trading operations and to deliver the Catering and Retail Development Plans.

Effective delivery of the Retail Consultancy includes:

· Assist in the development of the detailed planning stage of the shop in the Welcome Building including fit out, storage areas and merchandising to ensure targets are met

· Operational arrangements needed to manage and maintain a new shop at the Mill for example, stock control, epos, workforce roles and responsibilities

· Consult and advise on the new range planning, including the capsule collection and items made from the silk, and merchandising prior to the opening of the new shop

· Assist the newly appointed Operations Manager to deliver the Retail Development Plan to ensure the Mill Team become increasingly retail savvy, and develop their skills for selling, range planning and visual merchandising

· Provide ongoing support for seasonal range planning until December 2020 when the Preserving the Fabric Project finishes

5. The Retail Project Plan

May 2017 - Appoint Consultant

May 2017 - Review base documents, Business Plan, Stage 3 Architect Plans, Audience Development Plan, Retail Development Plan

June 2017 - Contribute to detailed design phase of Welcome Building and fit out including procurement of EPOS system

January 2018 - Detailed range planning and visual merchandising for opening

to December 2020- Support for Operations Manager and Mill Director through range planning and visual merchandising in the delivery of the targets of the Business Plan

6. Consultation and Adoption

The role of Retail Consultant will be managed by the Mill Director and on a day-to-day basis will work closely with the Operations Manager (when appointed).

We expect a commissioning meeting and regular communication throughout the project.

7. Response

In the response to this Brief we are looking for:

· How the Consultant will respond to the Brief

· The range of professional skills the Consultant will bring and examples of their work with outcomes for clients

· A timetable for the project, including milestones and dates

· The extent of the Consultant's professional and public liability insurance cover

· Approximate costs (submissions cannot exceed £13,500)

8. Pre-Application Site Visits/Calls

Mill visits can be organised, please contact Sue Tapliss, Mill Director at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 01256 892065 if you would like to book a time to visit or a telephone appointment to discuss the scope of the project.

9. Further Background Information

Information on current visitor numbers, audience development and other relevant commercial information will be provided to the successful applicant on appointment.

10. How To Apply

If you wish to be considered for this work, please submit an expression of interest proposal on no more than six sides of A4 setting out:

· Your suitability and experience to undertake this project, providing three relevant examples of previous successful assignments and three references;

· How you would approach the assignment (an outline methodology/programme would be useful); and

· Your fee bid proposal, clearly indicating how many days you are including and what services are included/excluded in this

Please return this by 12 noon on 23rd May 2017

By email to: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Please ensure that your email and any attachments do not exceed 10MBs.

11. Selection Process

Submissions will be assessed on both a quality and price basis.  We reserve the right to ask applicants to attend an interview to inform this during the following week. Please indicate in your expression of interest any days during this week that you would be unavailable. We aim to appoint the successful applicant by 29th May 2017.

12. Contact Us

If you have any queries regarding the nature of this assignment, please contact Sue Tapliss.

Further background information is available on request.

Applications to Sue Tapliss, Mill Director.

Whitchurch Silk Mill, 28 Winchester Street, Whitchurch, Hampshire RG28 7AL

T: 01256 892065 E: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 May 2017 10:42  
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