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Empty shop in Oxford Street to train next generation of retail entrepreneurs

Oxford Street: helping train up new retailers (Image: Shutterstock)
Oxford Street: helping train up new retailers (Image: Shutterstock)

An empty shop in Oxford Street is set open today, Tuesday 4 May as part of major campaign to create the next generation of high street entrepreneurs.

 

Hello, World, is a comprehensive package of retail support from the UK’s fastest-growing small business network and business support provider, Enterprise Nation, and SumUp, the leading mobile point of sale company in Europe, which will give more than 33 UK retailers the chance to pick-up new skills to help transform the post-pandemic high street.

 

Early stage and start-up brands will pop-up on Oxford Street, Europe’s busiest high street, during May. The first cohort includes British-born Muslim fashion designer Rifhat Qureshi founder of Modest Trends, a range of colourful hijabs and scarves, Black-owned luxury home fragrance company Aya Aromas started by sisters Sophinne and Georgette Aikins-Sancho over lockdown and sustainable, Fairtrade online bag retailer Planet Nature launched by Abdal Khan promoting responsible consumerism.

 

Other retailers lined up include Victoria Jenkins, founder of Unhidden, an adaptive fashion brand for people with physical disabilities and a chocolate art company run by part-time tax accountant Yunga Shah who gives a proportion of profits to support Kenyan schoolchildren.

 

Firms will be schooled in cutting edge, experiential retail, and learn how to construct an effective hybrid approach to selling.

 

This will include online resources such as research into consumer habits, how to attract footfall into store, and building ever stronger connections with customers who have purchased from and supported small businesses over the past year. The partnership hopes the scheme will help retailers learn how to combine effective online sales with engaging safe, high street experiences.

 

Small Business Minister Paul Scully says: “It’s been encouraging to see entrepreneurs across the UK going digital to adapt their businesses in these challenging times, but we also know that thriving high streets are at the heart of strong, vibrant communities.

 

“With so many businesses looking forward to serving their customers in-person, this initiative from Enterprise Nation and SumUp is a welcome boost to our plans to build back better from the pandemic.”

 

Emma Jones CBE, founder of Enterprise Nation, adds: “There is no doubt this is an extraordinary moment for British high streets. To say they have changed beyond recognition would be an understatement.

 

“It’s clear what happens next will be crucial in shaping their future. While our high streets might look bleak right now with an exodus of large retailers, small businesses are preparing to return and will play an important role going forward.

 

“This new breed of high street entrepreneurs are not focused on consumerism, rather many have social purpose at the heart of their offering and are looking to understand how to position this within a traditional high street setting.”

 

Alex Von Schirmeister, Executive Vice President for Europe at SumUp, says: “Helping small businesses to find new ways to connect with their customers is even more relevant as we move out of this pandemic. Shopping behaviours will be different and transactions will evolve as people focus on hygiene. This initiative will help firms unravel what has happened, process what works, and build a new hybrid solution to the way we all operate. We’re determined to support and empower small businesses as they move towards what will become the next new normal.”

 

Figures from retail data company Springboard show "pent up demand from shoppers for bricks and mortar stores" which supports its forecast for "a significant uplift in footfall" now non-essential retail is open. Footfall is expected to boom by up to 50%.

 

But according to the Local Data Company, 11,000 fewer shops will be open compared to 12 months ago.

 

The Hello World campaign will combine free online support with safe experiential, hybrid retail delivery. Brands will be able to access the Oxford Street shop for as little as a day or a specified number of days and can opt to take it over solo or collaborate with other brands for a one-off fee. The shop is in collaboration with retail pop-up specialist Sook.

 

Sook founder John Hoyle says: “We need to re-think the way the high street operates and give start-ups and new businesses short-term, frictionless access for brand-building and experiential opportunities without the need for long-term financial commitment.”

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