A clothing brand committed to a “made in the Midlands” ethos and a fairtrade gift company are the two winners of Inspiring Retail Nottingham 2013 – and received their prizes at a glittering ceremony in the city last night.
Katie Lee-Wall and Laurence Bidston of local clothing brand Poppy Blow were celebrating their win of the under 30s category of Inspiring Retail last night along with Ele Corriette who runs Elefair which sells handmade fairly traded giftware.
The winners were whittled down from 49 applicants, which were then shortlisted to ten – five in the under 30 category and five in the over 30 category of the Inspiring Retail competition which set out to find two new shop owners for the city centre. The winners will each receive £10,000 in funding and thousands of pounds in support from top business experts in Nottingham.
The Inspiring Retail Nottingham 2013 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.
Katie Lee-Wall of Poppy Blow, winner of the under 30s category, said: ““We’re completely over the moon. There were some amazing ideas from all the contestants and the competition was fierce, so we never dreamed we’d actually win. Winning has made our lives so much easier – we’re now able to complete our website and finish doing up the shop, which will open in March. We’ll also have a second store (thanks to FHP) opening next September.”
Inspiring Retail is an ingenious collaboration of Nottingham City Council, NBV Enterprise Solutions and five private sector organisations. The final ten were put through their paces before retail ‘dragons’ when they had to pitch their business ideas.
David Hargreaves of FHP who helped launch the competition said: “We are delighted for Poppy Blow and Elefair. Both companies demonstrated flair and creativity – and sustainable business ideas.
“We will be helping the winners to find retail units in the city – and then our experts will be guiding them through other aspects of their businesses, from their branding and PR, to legal and financial advice.”
Helen Andrews from Nottingham design agency RizkMcCay is on the expert panel and was a ‘dragon’ on pitch day. She said: “We had a fantastic collection of applicants. It was very difficult to shortlist just ten from such an impressive line up of potential retailers – and especially difficult to pick just two winners.”
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 advices will come from Smith Cooper, and marketing and creative agency Rizk McCay and PR agency Cartwright Communications will offer PR and marketing support.
Ele Coriette of Elefair, winner of the over 30s category, said: “I’m absolutely delighted to have won. I never thought it would be me. I already trade in the Market Square and have a pop-up shop in the Lace Market, but now I can open a permanent store in the city centre, with first-rate support from the dragons. I’m really excited to see what lies ahead.”
The final ten applicants were at the presentation last night held at Nottingham Trent University. The eight which missed out included a shop for doggy treats and accessories, a cafe with barber shop and menswear, an artisan baker and a specialist knitting shop. There are hopes that Inspiring Retail Nottingham will be back again in 2014.
Councillor Nick McDonald, portfolio holder for jobs and growth at the city council which is leading the competition, said: “This was 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.”
Additional supporters of Inspiring Retail are the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce, Nottingham Trent University, the Nottingham BID and media partner Nottingham Post.
The winners will also get the panel’s support – worth an estimated £50,000 – for 12 months.
David Hargreaves added: “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. What this competition has proved is that there are people out there with fantastic ideas for retail units.”