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Entrepreneurs to compete for free retail space

Three retailers will be offered business support worth £250,000, including free space in a Scottish shopping centre as part of a “Dragon’s Den” style scheme.

The Project Retail initiative is organised by property investment manager Prupim and has been designed to fill vacant retail space in its Wellgate shopping centre in Dundee, which currently has 12 of its 60 retail sites sitting empty.

Aspiring retailers will pitch their ideas to a panel of business experts in a bid to win the three-year package. Winners will be given use of a fitted-out shop in the Wellbeck centre, as well as mentoring and marketing support from business experts for three years. The first six months will be rent free and retailers will then be able to negotiate ongoing rent based on their turnover during that period.

Vacant retail space caused by the recession is a problem in several of Prupim’s shopping centres and the company said that if this scheme was successful it will be rolled out across its other outlets.

Prupim, which is part of Prudential, owns or co-owns many of the UK’s best-known shopping centres, including Westfield London, Bluewater in Kent and the Arndale Centre in Manchester.

Project Retail was launched by entrepreneur Michelle Mone, who runs designer lingerie brand Ultimo, and is backed by Dundee University and the city council. Deadline for entries is July 31.

Go to www.project-retail.co.uk for more details.

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