The Retail Trust is inviting budding shopfloor singers and department store dance troops to enter its Search for a Star competition.
The charity, which provides hardship grants and counselling for people working in retail, will hold heats nationwide, followed by a live final at its annual London Ball in January 2010.
Retailers will be asked to sponsor their employees £295 if they make it through to the final 150 acts, who will perform at roadshow heats around the country.
10 bursaries will be offered to help independent retailers enter.
Retail Trust chief executive Nigel Rothband said: “In our 177-year history, this is the biggest thing we’ve done. It is essentially an awareness campaign. We are taking advantage of the popularity of X-Factor and Britain’s Got Talent but this will in no way be a second-rate version. We want to make people smile in these difficult times and at the same time raise money for the principle charity in the retail sector.”
The Trust is expecting thousands of entries from anyone working in retail in any capacity. Judges will then choose the 150 best acts for the roadshow, which will take place at retail centres across the UK, including Lakeside shopping centre in Thurrock in Kent and The Arndale Centre in Manchester. The top 50 roadshow acts will be selected and put to the public vote via a dedicated website to find the final four who will go on to perform at the ball.
The scheme already has the backing of several major retailers including Marks & Spencer, House of Fraser, Asos and Harrods.
House of Fraser chief executive John King said: “We’re thinking of holding our internal auditions on the shopfloor at our stores to involve all the staff and the customers in the event.”
Judges include an A&R manager at Universal and an agent who books X-Factor acts. The others are yet to be revealed but the Retail Trust promised that the powerful connections of its members would secure some famous names to sit on the judging panel.
Anyone interested in entering can download an application pack from www.retailtrustsearchforastar.com . The same site will then host videos of the top 50 acts from October 12.