A declaration of retail independence

Retail sector is changing

The North West welcomed 230 independent stores in 2017, according to new figures.

The growth came as every region in the country with the exception Yorkshire and the Humber saw multiple store closures during the year.

The North West, North East and Yorkshire and the Humber hold the highest vacancy rates, according to research by OnBuy.com However, it also declared that the region has seen “extraordinary, growth” in its independent store markets.

With 230 independent openings it led the way, followed by the West Midlands, which recorded 194 over the same 12 month period.

Manchester’s famous Northern Quarter has always prided itself on the fact that it is packed with independent brands

Salmon Street, Northern Quarter

and retailers and there is plenty of demand for property in the area.

The latest arrivals include V1BE, which specialises in high-intensity workouts and Idle Hands.

Idle Hands is opening a new coffee shop and restaurant in Dale Street. The company was keen to stay in the Northern Quarter and was forced to look for a new home when the lease ran out on its previous home.

Owner Dave Wolinski said it was vital for the firm to stay in the area because of the spirit of adventure and independence. He added: “It has been a huge relief to settle into our new home. The coffee will be front and centre but we also have plans to host exhibitions, launch nights and supper clubs in future.”

Revealing the figures, Cas Paton, managing director of Onbuy.com, said: “Keen business men and women have their eye on vacant spaces across the country and we must support our local independents, bricks-and-mortar businesses. It’s the only way for retail to survive.”

Jackie Mulligan

Jackie Mulligan is taking Britain’s nation of independent shopkeepers online. She has created and runs an e-Commerce platform that aims to recreate the feel and vibe of the local high street.

ShopAppy.com began life in Yorkshire, where it is providing a platform for independent retailers – delivering an online space for local shops to trade. It is now spreading its wings across the UK.

It also aims to bring people physically back into those shops and the towns they serve through its click and collect service.

Mulligan explained: “The aim was to create a site that provided the personality of the shops with the products and addressed the need of many towns to attract more visitors.

“We’re looking to level the playing field and we’ve just launched in our 10th town.

“The High Street is having a difficult time. We want people to have a choice and the chance to buy local. It is important that we keep and support our independent traders. It is about sustaining towns.

“We use the digital platform to drive footfall. That has got to be the way forward.

“If we can make it easier for customers to get their shopping and more inspired to get into town we can help reverse the decline.”

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