Posted: Wed 19th Jul 2023
A new project to boost London's iconic Oxford Street is giving small businesses the chance to move into a shop with no rent for six months and a big reduction in business rates.
Launched by Westminster City Council, Meanwhile On: Oxford Street will see innovative entrepreneurs moving into stores previously occupied by American candy businesses which the council says are a "threat to the status" of the famous shopping street.
As well as no rent, successful applicants to the new intiative, in partnership with New West End Company, will also enjoy a minimum 70% reduction in business rates plus store design, mentoring and management support from placemaking consultancy Someday Studios.
The scheme is aimed at business owners looking to launch their first store. Spaces can be single occupancy or a themed concept shared between multiple brands.
Although businesses will not have to pay rent, they must be able to fund the other associated costs of running a store for six months and show potential for long term growth.
Cllr Geoff Barraclough, cabinet member for planning and economic development at Westminster City Council, said:
"The West End has recovered quickly from the pandemic but there are still too many vacant units and poor-quality occupants. That's why we've set up Meanwhile On: Oxford Street to help fill the gaps with upcoming brands showcasing their innovative new ideas.
"I am excited to welcome new brands to one of the most famous streets in Europe, and support them with free rent, reduced business rates and help with promoting their businesses."
Around 35 brands are expected to be supported by Meanwhile On: Oxford Street over the next three years. The first small business store will open in the autumn of this year.
Business owners can apply here. The deadline is 12pm on Wednesday 30 August 2023.
Giving small businesses the Oxford Street experience
Meanwhile On: Oxford Street follows Small Business Goes Big, a recent initiative by Enterprise Nation and Adobe Express which saw 10 small business owners selling their products in an exclusive pop-up space on London's Oxford Street.
Serina El Mufti from The Dead Sea Co, one of the brands that took part, said:
"Being granted the chance to showcase our products and services on such an iconic street has not only elevated our brand presence but has also served as a valuable trial for venturing into the world of retail.
"The foot traffic, diverse customer base and invaluable feedback we received have provided useful insights and confidence in our potential to thrive in a physical retail environment."
Enterprise Nation's partnership with Adobe Express is continuing. Business owners currently have a chance to win £250 grants. Applications close on 10 August 2023.