Small business owners could be able to open up stores in Hull shopping centres after the launch of a new initiative.
The Free Space+ competition is a national initiative to offer start-ups and growing businesses in Hull and across the UK to secure free retail space in shopping centres.
The initiative has been set up by Revo, the membership organisation which supports the UK’s retail property sector, and businesses have until December 1 to enter the competition.
Small businesses can apply for free space in both St Stephen's and the Prospect Centre. The initiative includes more than 100 shopping centres across the country including other smaller centres in Yorkshire.
Applicants will be asked to identify their preferred destination, and demonstrate how trading from that location will accelerate growth.
A group of judges will then select ten winning entries in January 2018, which will occupy space in the shopping centres for three months.
The Free Space+ initiative has been developed by Revo in partnership with ten of the largest UK retail landlords, including British Land, which runs St Stephen's, as well as the British Independent Retailers’ Association (BIRA).
Ed Cooke, chief executive of Revo, said: “Our campaign has brought together the UK’s leading retail landlords and created a national platform that will help start-up businesses access the space they need to thrive and grow.
“Physical retail space is not only a point of sale; it is integral to building a retail brand and driving website traffic. With just a couple of weeks left to enter, Free Space+ is ready to enable businesses to trade from some of the UK’s leading retail destinations, and to provide them with the support they need to fully realise its potential.
“The first business incubation initiative of its kind, Free Space+ will bring exciting new start-ups into shopping centres, where a dynamic mix of businesses is essential to attract shoppers.”
Alan Hawkins, CEO of the British Independent Retailers’ Association (Bira), said: “Independent retailers are essential to the diversity of shopping experiences. They bring excitement, create unique spaces and build authentic connections with local communities.
“At Bira we want to do everything we can to help make sure there's always a space for them. We are pleased to be working with Revo and the shopping centre landlords on Free Space+ which is aligned with our goal of supporting independent retailers and helping them thrive.”
Each successful applicant will also receive a support package from bira, including insurance, legal advice and mentoring. The value to each winning business, including the market rent for the retail space, could be up to £30,000.
Entries must be made by December 1 via www.revocommunity.org/campaigns/free_space