One Ark launches second chance for passionate Knowsley start-ups to win a rent-free shop

Published on: Wednesday, 17-September-2014

Following a successful launch in 2013, Knowsley-based investment charity, One Ark, part of the First Ark Group, is urging enthusiastic business owners in the borough to enter its second Win a Shop competition. The prize? A fully refurbished shop from which the lucky, winning entrepreneur can operate rent-free for an entire year.

Alongside this exciting opportunity, the successful business will also benefit from extensive mentoring and support from local organisations, including One Ark, Knowsley Council and Merseyside Special Investment Fund, as well as receiving membership of Knowsley Chamber of Commerce. The winner’s new shop will be created from an empty retail unit in Prescot Shopping Centre, which will be transformed to suit the exact needs of its new occupant ahead of its grand opening in 2015.

To secure this business boosting prize, the winning applicant will be required to demonstrate an enterprising, unique and independent retail offering, which will create employment opportunities for the region and attract shoppers to Prescot town centre. This business owner will also have to impress judges with a savvy, entrepreneurial attitude.

The entry process is split into three tiers, beginning with an expression of interest whereby applicants will be asked to provide an overview of their business plan. Selected entries will then be asked to submit a full and comprehensive application, which will be reviewed by a panel of regional business experts. The final stage takes the form of a ‘Dragons Den’ style interview with the panel, from which a winning business will be chosen.

Among the panel will be Cheryl Mullins, owner of furniture upcycling shop Grace Lea, who won last year’s Win a Shop competition, beating off 25 other business owners to secure her own retail space. Cheryl will offer mentoring to the second winner, along with a unique insight into how the competition and its prizes can transform a business.
Executive director at One Ark, Tony Cahill, said: “This second opportunity for an inspiring Knowsley retailer to Win a Shop builds on the commitment we have to creating strong communities and economic growth within the borough.

“We’re proud to forge partnerships and alliances with other regional organisations and bodies in order to generate impactful, long term opportunities for people in Knowsley. The chance to win a customised, rent-free space in which to build a successful business is one every independent retailer in the borough should be looking to take up. I’d advise anyone who is interested to apply as soon as possible in order to grab this unique opportunity.”

Competition entries have now opened and businesses have until 17th October to express an interest in taking part. One Ark is holding an open day at Prescot Shopping Centre on 6th September from 10am-2pm, allowing interested parties to meet the team behind the competition and view what could be their future premises.

Take a look at the Win A Shop Brochure to find out more information, and you can register your interest here.