Helping retailers to maintain a thriving high street a priority for District Council

Posted on: Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Retailers across Newark and Sherwood have been receiving help from the District Council in a bid to maintain a healthy and diverse high street. Following challenges presented by the pandemic and an increasingly digital economy, Newark and Sherwood District Council is working with local business owners to build and develop their businesses.

The Business Growth and Resilience Programme was created to support the growth and security of the local economy by offering business owners a series of tailored sessions, including 1-2-1 mentoring, reviews of business models, training opportunities, and funding to expand their businesses. The programme is already bearing fruit on the High Street.

Beanblock, a family-friendly play café based in St Mark's Place owned by two mums – Cate and Aliki – who saw the need for a safe, family-friendly venue where parents could enjoy refreshments whilst their children played safely, was helped by the programme with funding and specialist advice. The funding they received as part of the programme allowed for new toilets to be installed upstairs adding value to the existing meeting and venue rooms on the first floor of the café. The play area was also extended in January 2022, and an online 'Pay for Play' booking system created to make the most of the site.

Cate Martin, co-founder of Beanblock, commented: "When we first met in 2019, we realised we had so much in common. We both wanted to create a safe and welcoming environment for parents and their children."

Co-founder Aliki Allen added: "As parents ourselves, we know how taking our children out for food can be very stressful. What if my toddler has a meltdown? Can I get my pushchair into the venue? Will my kids get bored? We want to give parents somewhere to relax and enjoy being with their family in a supportive space. The funding and advice we received from the programme has meant that we can grow this important environment for parents and their children."

The funding and advice we received from the Business Growth and Resilience Programme meant that we could expand this offer to local parents and build upon this important environment."

Another high street name that has benefitted from the Business Resilience Growth and Programme is Village Chic, an interiors business based in one of Newark's fine Georgian townhouses. Set over three floors the business offers fine French furniture, Annie Sloan Chalk Paints, Pure Original Paints and hand painting services.

Lucretia Henry, owner of Village Chic on Castlegate, has identified new business opportunities and built a more robust website to help take her business forward.

The programme has helped her to identify and exploit new markets for her business across the UK. As a result, she is now developing her brand and introducing new product lines, including an exclusive clothing range.

She will be holding invitation-only events in her store to promote the new range and to showcase her existing ranges.

Lucretia has seen real benefits for her business: "With the funding from Newark and Sherwood District Council, I have been able to develop the online business and grow the Village Chic brand. In turn, I have been able to create new opportunities for my existing team to build their careers as well as opening up new employment opportunities."

Councillor Rhona Holloway, Portfolio Holder for Economic Development and Visitors at Newark and Sherwood District Council, said: "It is incredibly rewarding to see businesses, who are such important features of our high street and our local community, grow and flourish due to the first round of the Business Growth and Resilience Programme.

"The funding and mentoring they received from the programme have enabled Beanblock and Village Chic to expand and provide an even better experience for their customers.

The Business Growth and Resilience Programme launched as part of the District Council’s economic growth strategy and linked business service specialists with local businesses across four key sectors: Retail, Food and Drink; Manufacturing and Construction; Health and Social Care; and Visitor Accommodation.

To find out how your business could benefit from the programme visit the business growth and resilience section of the Newark and Sherwood District Council website.