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Shopping centre landlords offer free space to retailers

Revo, the organisation that represents the retail community, has launched a new competition to give budding retail entrepreneurs free space in shopping centres and help with marketing.

The organisation driving retail placemaking across Britain and Ireland has launched a major new campaign to find the next generation of retail talent and “breathe new life into malls” in both countries.

However, Revo has warned that industry initiatives like this can only do so much and said the government needed to take action as well to help the retail sector. The association said this included the reforming of business rates to level the playing field between online and physical retailers as well as additional help for the high street, to help the industry weather the challenges its faces.

The HATCH initiative is backed by some of the biggest names in retail property, including Landsec, Hammerson, Westfield, M&G Real Estate, Harcourt and Ellandi. Together, with the British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA), they will run a “Dragon’s Den style” competition offering free space and expert marketing advice in their retail places to up-and-coming retail businesses.

There are no restrictions on what type of businesses can enter. Anyone from online only outlets looking to experiment with a physical presence to food stalls wanting bigger premises, can apply.

Entrants will come before judges in May and the competition will run for two months, with winners announced in the same month. The exact offer varies from location to location, but all winners will benefit from win free rent, with business rates and service charges covered too. They will also receive professional marketing and business support to help promote their concept and a year’s free BIRA membership, which includes a unique retail insurance scheme, card processing, free legal advice and preferential banking rates.

Current locations include Westfield Stratford City in London, St David’s Dewi Sant in Cardiff, Silverburn in Glasgow, The Galleries in Tyne and Wear, Intu Derby, Parkway Shopping Centre in Limerick, Republic of Ireland and Bloomfields in County Down, Northern Ireland.

The pop-up retail market is worth at least £2.3bn while major retailers, including e-commerce platforms such as Amazon, are opening pop-ups of their own.

Samantha Sen, head of policy and campaigns from Revo, said: “Small businesses are the backbone of the British economy and a source of great creativity and innovation. We believe that the retail success stories of tomorrow will come from today’s pop-up shops, kiosks, and e-tailers as dozens of brands and chains we now know and love have proven. Innocent Drinks for example started as a stall at a music festival.

“However, HATCH is about more than just identifying the next wave of entrepreneurs and talent who will shape – it is a demonstration of the industry’s commitment to invest in the communities we are embedded in. Yet there is only so much the industry itself can do, we need to see urgent action from government at all levels to reduce the burden on retailers and revitalise our high streets.”

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