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Rotherham indies vie for Dragons’ Den-style grants

Independent retailers in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, are competing to win council grants from a pool of £350,000 to fund expansion in a Dragons’ Den-style initiative.

Rotherham council launched the Business Vitality Scheme earlier this year to get more indies into its town centre. The scheme will cover 50% of shop rent costs in the first year and 25% in the second, providing the yearly rent is less than £25,000

The scheme has just awarded its first round of funding to bridal and occasionwear store Bridal Affairs and accessories indie Boo Boutique, which took part in business plan pitches to a panel from the council in the style of hit BBC TV series Dragons’ Den. Both indies will now open their second stores in the Imperial Buildings shopping centre in Rotherham and will benefit from the subsidised rent deal, as well as additional funding of up to 75% of the cost of the shopfit.

Lisa Middlemiss, owner of Bridal Affairs, said: “I had been thinking about a second site for some time but the grant made it possible. The reduced rent was a big incentive in this climate.” Middlemiss will rent a 1,000 sq ft site in the arcade and the store will be called Purely Bridal. 

The funding initiative will later be extended to include shopfront improvements for existing retailers in priority areas of Rotherham.

The Business Vitality Scheme aims to help 20 indies in the next three years.

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