Posted on 26 July 2013
Smith Cooper is behind a city-wide competition to find two new Nottingham retailers who will each win £10,000 in funding – and business support from some of the city’s top business experts.
The unique initiative, called Inspiring Retail Nottingham 2013, is a city-wide competition to find either would–be retailers or existing shop or restaurant owners who want to expand their current businesses.
The initiative has been funded through the High Street Innovation Fund which was given to a number of UK towns and cities following retail guru Mary Portas’s review of town centres. To complement a package of other projects, Nottingham wanted to come up with a really innovative way of spending some of the grant – and came up with the Inspiring Retail Nottingham competition.
Inspiring Retail is an ingenious collaboration of Nottingham City Council, NBV Enterprise Solutions and five private sector organisations. The aim is to invite potential retailers to enter the competition – with ten shortlisted finalists ‘pitching’ their business ideas to the Inspiring Retail ‘dragons-style’ panel in the autumn.
Natasha Smith of Smith Cooper said: “At a time when high streets in the UK are struggling, we want to breathe new life into Nottingham city centre. This is a time when independent retailers can shine – and show their presence in our shopping areas. We are seeing retailers doing well on line now looking to get bricks and mortar to develop their businesses. We are anticipating we will get applications from local on line businesses which are looking to take the next move.
“Inspiring Retail is offering retailers to be part of the Nottingham retail scene. It’s for someone who has always wanted to set up a shop, or perhaps a graduate who has a burning desire and a creative idea.
“The winning retailers will not just receive funding, but a support package worth thousands of pounds. It is vital that a retailer has support to develop and progress over the year.”
Two winners – one in the over 30 category, and one in the under 30 category – will then be announced at a special presentation evening in November.
Councillor Nick McDonald, portfolio holder for jobs and growth at the city council which is leading the competition, said: “This is a truly unique and exciting collaboration between the city and private sector partners who are all passionate about helping new businesses – and breathing new life into Nottingham’s shopping streets.
“Nottingham has always been a leading UK shopping destination and we are inviting two up-and-coming retailers to become part of this. We were one of the councils which received what has been called ‘Portas funds’ – government money which aims to help boost retail centres. We are allocating a portion of this money to help launch the ventures of two local retailers.”
As well as the funding for set up costs and stock, the two winners will gain insightful help and advice from the panel of private sector sponsors: Yorkshire Bank will be offering financial advice, property consultants FHP will source a suitable retail unit in Nottingham city centre for each retailer, law firm Fraser Brown will be assisting with legal issues and HR, accountancy and tax advice will come from Smith Cooper, and marketing and creative agency Rizk McCay and PR agency Cartwright Communications will offer PR and marketing support.
Additional supporters of Inspiring Retail are Nottingham Trent University, the Nottingham BID and media partner Nottingham Post.
The competition, which requires candidates to apply on line, launched on19 July and will run throughout the summer. There will be a helpline offering advice to candidates on the process. Deadlines for entries will be 9 September and the shortlist announced on 11 October with retailers pitching their ideas on 13 November. The winners revealed on 21 November.
The winners will also get the panel’s support - worth an estimated £50,000 - for 12 months. New retailers are being asked to come forward and apply – along with existing retailers with no more than one unit who want to expand their businesses.
NBV, which has won the contract to provide business support to the city council, will be acting as business mentors to the winners – and the eight shortlisted.
David Hargreaves of FHP said: “We have been talking about a dragons-style competition for budding retailers at FHP for the past two to three years. The funding Nottingham City Council secured via the Mary Portas initiative to tackle the increased vacancy rates in our towns and cities provided the opportunity.
“We know that there will be some people out there with fantastic ideas for a shop or café. Whether it’s vintage clothing, a beauty salon, a bakery or coffee shop, we know this is a competition where we will find some really inspiring ideas and we cannot wait to see the applications.”
Inspiring Retail is looking for retail or leisure businesses wanting to set up in the city centre. The winner will have the ambition and drive to develop a business which is sustainable, adds value to the city centre offer, improves the retail/leisure mix and has an element of innovation.
Applicants should log onto www.inspiringretail.org.uk to find application forms and competition guidelines - or call the free helpline on 0844 8872568 for more information and help on how to complete the applications process. Applications should be in by 9 September. Interviews will be held on 13 November – and winners will be announced at a special presentation on 21 November.