A number of local shops across the district have benefited from Ashfield District Council’s retail improvement scheme since its introduction last year and are now seeing the changes make a real difference to their businesses.
Beneficiaries have used the grant to improve areas such as signage, fittings and displays, interior and exterior repairs, equipment, uniform, website development and computer systems resulting in a noticeable improvement to the premises appearance and/or their business trading and efficiency.
From large revamps for some units to small cosmetic tweaks, a total of ten businesses located in retail premises based across the district have now taken advantage of the scheme with a further four businesses still yet to claim their grant.
Grants are available to existing and new retailers wanting to improve either their existing businesses premises or a vacant unit they are moving into. Applicants could receive up to 50% of the total project costs up to a maximum of £5,000, which can be awarded over more than one application.
Three recent Hucknall beneficiaries, Arena Hair, Need2View Sales and Lettings and Spelt and Rye Bakery, have worked with the Council throughout the streamlined application process and have now put the money towards improving their businesses.
Arena Hair, based in an old school house in Hucknall, put their grant towards a new computer system to replace their outdated manual booking system, increasing efficiency.
Martin Leach, owner of Arena Hair, explained: “The Council has always pro-actively supported us all round with our business needs and planning. The grant has gone a long way in improving the running of day-to-day business on the shop floor and the new system has also enabled us to market ourselves more and increase the outreach of our business”.
Spelt and Rye Bakery owner Philip Roadley took over an empty unit on Annesley Road in Hucknall, transforming it into an artisan bakery and deli. He said: “When I applied for the grant I received support every step of the way from the Regeneration Team at the Council.
"The grant has allowed me to open my shop by contributing towards many essential items that I needed to start-up. I could not have done it without the grant”.
Graham Field from Need2View Sales and Lettings explained that the grant has helped to transform the appearance of the outside of the premises.
“The exterior of our premises was really in need of a face-lift so we were delighted when our application for grant funding was approved by Ashfield District Council.
"The grant meant that we could undertake work such as rendering, re-painting and add new signage. It has really caught the attention of our clients, other businesses and local people who have all commented very positively".
Bowkays of Kirkby and Robinsons Furniture of Sutton have this week discovered they will also be awarded a grant to help improve their premises.
Bowkay’s owner, Kayley Day, has grown her floristry business from a small market stall into an established shop on Kirkby high street. She said: “I was so happy when I was informed that my application had been approved. The grant will enable me to improve the appearance of my shop front and buy a much-needed new door. It’s fantastic that there is this type of support from the Council for local businesses”.
Robinsons Furniture, an established family run business based on Outram Street in Sutton for nearly 40 years plan to use the funding to refurbish their shop to maintain their high street presence. Owner Mrs Robinson was delighted to hear that her application had been accepted.
“Being offered a grant from the Council is fantastic news. Part of the grant will contribute towards the refurbishment of our shop to encourage more local customers to visit and the other part of the grant will help towards a virtual tour of the shop for our on-line customers. The support we received throughout the process from the Council was great”.
Kirkby in Ashfield based hair and beauty salon, Chic Boutique, a past beneficiary of the scheme was recently shortlisted for a hair and beauty award for the East Midlands.
Natalie Wadley, co-owner of Chic Boutique, said: “We never imagined for a second that when creating Chic Boutique we would be offering these employment and training opportunities now and be moving forward hopefully to expand and provide more job opportunities for the area.
“The grant improvement scheme was so easy to apply for and the decision was quick. This helped build a salon where people want to work and created job satisfaction and training opportunities. We feel very lucky to have such a supportive team and a loyal customer base. We will be eternally grateful for the added support of our local authority and the community”.
Edd de Coverly, Service Director for Place and Communities said: “Ashfield District Council recognises the importance of the area's town centres and local shopping streets to the local economy. It’s fantastic to see this scheme making such a difference to local businesses as well as creating jobs for local residents”.
If you believe your project meets the criteria of the scheme and would like to apply then please contact the Ashfield & Mansfield Regeneration Service on (01623) 463174 for an informal discussion or e-mail email@example.com