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London indies back bid to tackle empty units

London’s independent retailers have spoken out in support of a scheme to offer preferential rental agreements to small businesses and start-ups to reduce the number of empty stores in the capital.

The London New Enterprise scheme was launched on March 12 by London Mayor Boris Johnson and centres around a website at

Landlords, agents and councils in the capital can register their empty properties on the site, offering initiatives such as short-term leases and rents with a step increase to encourage independent businesses and start-ups to fill vacant sites.

The scheme is open to start-ups and small businesses that do not already have a site in London.

Business owners can contact landlords through the website, which also features information on topics such as raising finance and sourcing legal advice.

London New Enterprise is a joint venture between the Mayor, London small business association Capital Enterprise, landlords’ association the British Property Federation and office rental specialist Workspace Group, which has provided the web platform for free.

Pamela Shiffer, owner of the eponymous premium womenswear indie which has two stores in London, said: “The smaller streets, where indies could start up and thrive, are dying a death at the moment because rents are continuing to rise. A scheme like this would give indies the security to experiment with new ideas, which can only make for a more exciting mix of stores on our high streets.”

Trevor Puddifoot, owner of lingerie indie The Undercover Experience in Greenwich, south London, added: “We’re in a parade of 24 shops and at least three are boarded up at the moment. The number of empty sites has definitely grown and if this scheme can help fill those units then it will help the market to grow.”

Readers' comments (2)

  • Martin Ailion

    Other cities should follow this plan.

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  • This is a great idea which will encourage new businesses to thrive. It is of benefit to all involved - indies, landlords and councils. No-one wants to see empty shops on any high street. It will also let businesses get a foot on the ladder in London where rents can be prohibitively high but we also need more of this in other major cities and high streets.

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