The initiative, StartUp High Street, has won the support of Business Secretary Vince Cable, and will offer an unprecedented opportunity to fledgling retailers – with the added benefit of helping to rejuvenate the complexion of the UK’s flagging high street scene.
Part of the national campaign’s blueprint for start-up support includes PitchUp, a scheme which will see start-ups given the opportunity to pitch their products to high street retailer John Lewis, with a view to getting their merchandise onto the British department store’s shelves.
A pilot store in Richmond called PopUp Britain is set to open later this month, with the first six start-up businesses installed.
Emma Jones, co-founder of the national start-up campaign, said: “StartUp High Street gives small start-up businesses a fantastic opportunity to scale their businesses and become a part of their high street. We’re seeing record numbers of people setting up businesses, and this new wave of entrepreneurs are starting out small and online. This initiative offers them a chance to test out new markets as well as get their products in front of big names like John Lewis. By giving start-ups access to empty shops across Britain, we hope that as StartUp High Street evolves, it will help provide a much-needed adrenalin shot to the local British shopping experience.”
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “The government believes that start-ups are crucial to driving the growth of the economy, as demonstrated by our recent funding of the StartUp Loans scheme. The opportunity provided for entrepreneurs under the StartUp High Street initiative will give new businesses important access to the high street and offer them the support they need early on to help them to thrive. The scheme will be a welcome addition to our high streets, opening up shops, displaying enterprising spirit and showcasing the vital support on offer to help new businesses to succeed.”
Lord Young, the Prime Minister’s Enterprise Adviser said: “StartUp High Street is a great example of what can and needs to be done to support small businesses. They are the driving force of the economy and now more than ever we’ve got to do everything we can to help them find ways to grow. Most start-ups exist online already, selling their products via the web. This opportunity will allow them a low-cost avenue to a whole new market, with the new experiences that will bring. This initiative by StartUp Britain should be applauded.”
Sir Charles Dunstone, co-founder of The Carphone Warehouse and chairman of Talk Talk said: “I support StartUp High Street as a way to bring high streets back to life and get empty spaces back into use. Small businesses will have an opportunity to test their market and make sales and their presence on the high street should lead to higher footfall for all retailers. This has to be a good thing.”
Richmond MP Zac Goldsmith has also given his blessing to the scheme, which begins in his own constituency. He said: “I am very pleased to support StartUp High Street. It is an innovative and clever way not only to provide opportunities for small businesses at a time when they need it most, but to revitalise our high streets by restoring and using empty spaces.”