AN INDEPENDENT cafe group has cited the success of a town centre pedestrianisation project as one of the factors behind a dramatic rise in its Bournemouth trade.

The Yelverton Road branch of the Real Eating Company saw sales rise 31 per cent year-on-year.

The cafe won an award for recording the biggest rise in turnover among the business’s six outlets – even beating the one at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth.

Its founder praised her Bournemouth team and said the pedestrianisation of nearby Beale Place had “undoubtedly” helped.

The good year came after a second branch of Real Eating Company, inside Bournemouth’s Steamer Trading kitchenware store, was forced to close when the shop ceased trading in January.

The company gathered its staff to recognise the rise in sales.

Managing director Helena Hudson said: “We got all our staff together from Bournemouth, Chichester, Portsmouth and Salisbury, to celebrate.

“As an independent, we are having a record year with like-for-like sales up in excess of 12 per cent. Staff awards and record bonuses were handed out to most of the team.

“But the star of the show was our Bournemouth cafe, on Yelverton Road, which won the company award for most impressive sales growth this year, with a whopping 31 per cent increase.

“This was especially pleasing after the closure of our concession in Steamer Trading at the beginning of the year.”

The award was collected by manager Fon Potchana and assistant manager Veronika Tumova.

Ms Hudson said: “We’ve been so pleased with what Fon and her team have managed to achieve in Bournemouth this year. They have managed to attract an extra 165 customers on average, every single week, this year so far.

“This just goes to show that, if you get things right and have a great team, people will come.

“An extra bonus has been the unveiling of Beale Place, which has undoubtedly contributed to these stellar figures. We’ve seen a marked increase in sales since August when the pedestrianised area was fully open.”

Paul Kinvig, chief operating officer for Bournemouth Town Centre Business Improvement District (BID), said he was glad the pedestrianisation had helped.

“It’s one of the ways in which curation of public space, when it’s done well, has a really positive effect on business,” he said.

Eight olive trees were planted on Friday in the latest attempt to improve the area.

“It’s open the space up so people can come and stay and have an opportunity to go up to those businesses that are linked to Beale Place,” said Mr Kinvig.

“It’s really encouraging to see a business like Real Eating Company has seen the benefits and realised the potential to make it work for them.”