Dance school waltzes to success and scoops One Ark’s Win a Shop prize

Published on: Thursday, 18-December-2014

Investment charity, One Ark, part of the First Ark Group, has named dance school and performing arts equipment provider, The Dance Shop, as the lucky winner of its second Win a Shop competition, which includes a fully customised rent-free retail space for one year as part of its prize.

Alongside this, the winning business also receives membership of Knowsley Chamber of Commerce and mentoring and support from the organisations which have backed the competition, including Knowsley Council and Merseyside Special Investment Fund. The shop refit will be provided by North West facilities management company, Vivark.

Cath O’Grady, who owns The Dance Shop and the accompanying Jan Williams School of Dance, secured this prize following an extensive application process, which included a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style interview with the supporting organisations and last year’s Win a Shop success story, Grace Lea. The application also included the management of a Christmas market stall in Prescot, under the watchful eye of the expert panel of judges.

The retail unit, situated at Prescot Shopping Centre, will be fully refitted in line with the business’ needs ahead of its grand opening in April 2015. Trading at the store will help to expand the entrepreneur’s retail activity and will support its accompanying dance school, which provides affordable lessons for families on lower incomes.

Helen Wills, director of enterprise and investment at One Ark, said: “The opening of The Dance Shop allows Cath to branch out into retail while developing her existing business. This store opening also adds to the variety of shops available at Prescot Shopping Centre, making the high street more diverse in what it can offer shoppers.

“Win a Shop is a fantastic example of various businesses pooling resources and collaborating in order to create a launch pad for one company. Simultaneously, this project provides far reaching benefits for other businesses and communities too, something One Ark is extremely passionate about. Our work always focuses on creating measurable and economic results, particularly through campaigns that are engaging, creative and beneficial.”

Commenting on her competition win, Cath said: “Scooping this prize is the best Christmas present I could ever have hoped for. I cannot wait to have my own shop and I’m looking forward to the mentoring, particularly from Grace Lea which has experienced this process for itself and proved to be a great success.”

As the winning business, The Dance Shop beat off stiff competition from 11 other finalists which included a bakery, milliner and a vintage clothing retailer. Each of these finalists has been offered business support, including advice regarding further investment along with marketing and PR support from One Ark.