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Revo competition offers free space for retail entrepreneurs

Industry body Revo – formerly the British Council of Shopping Centres – is launching a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style competition to identify the next generation of retail entrepreneurs.

Called HATCH, the competition will give winners free space in leading shopping centres. The project is backed by retail property groups including Hammerson, Intu, Landsec, Westfield and M&G Real Estate.

As well as rent-free space, with business rates and service charges covered, winners will benefit from marketing advice, with the exact offer varying by location. The competition is open to any type of retail business, from online-only operations looking to expand into physical stores, to food stalls looking for their next stage of growth. Entries will be judged in May this year.

Current participating locations include Westfield Stratford City, St David’s in Cardiff, Silverburn in Glasgow, and Parkway Shopping Centre in Limerick.

However, Revo has cautioned that commercial innovation can only achieve so much in helping the retail sector, and repeated that business rate reform must be addressed by government.

“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,” says Revo head of policy and campaigns Samantha Sen.

“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.”