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Revo kick starts Free Space+

New national business incubator launched worth £300,000 to support retail start ups

Revo, the retail property and place-making organisation, has launched Free Space+, a national initiative to offer start-up and growing businesses retail space and business support in retail centres at no cost.

Free Space+ is launched in partnership with nine of the largest UK retail landlords as well as the British Independent Retailers’ Association (bira) and partners Asset Space, The Yard Creative and Clear Channel.

From 20 September, businesses from across the UK can apply for free space in up to 100 shopping centres, ranging from prime regional centres such as Westfield Stratford, The Bullring (Birmingham), and Meadowhall (Sheffield) to smaller-scale local shopping centres.

Applicants to Free Space+ will be asked to identify their preferred shopping centre, and demonstrate how trading from that location will accelerate their growth. A judging panel will select ten winners in January 2018, which will then be able to occupy space in their chosen shopping centre for three months.

Each successful applicant will also receive a support package from bira, including insurance, great financial rates and legal advice.  The winners will also be teamed up with mentors relevant to their particular businesses from independent retailers and the retail property world.  And there will be design, online brand mentoring available too.  The value to each winning business, including the market rent for the retail space, could be up to £30,000.

Free Space+ launched on 20 September. To find out more about this initiative or to enter go to

Free Space+ is supported by retail landlords Westfield, British Land, Hammerson, Capital & Regional, M&G, Montagu Evans, Ellandi, New River Retail and Moorgarth.

Ed Cooke, Chief Executive of Revo, said: “We are proud to bring together the UK’s leading retail landlords to create a national platform that that will help start-up businesses access the space they need to thrive and grow.

“Physical retail space is not only a point of sale, it is integral to building a retail brand and driving website traffic. Free Space+ is the first business incubation initiative of its kind, not only allowing businesses to trade from some of the UK’s leading retail destinations for free, but providing them with the support they need to fully realise its potential.

“This in turn, will bring exciting new businesses into retail places, where a dynamic mix of businesses is essential to attract shoppers.”

Mark Bourgeois, Managing Director for the UK & Ireland at Hammerson, said: “One of the great opportunities for start-up retail businesses is to find space in the right location at the heart of a busy city or town centre community.  Free Space+ offers space in our centres at no cost and places aspiring retailers in locations where they can engage with millions of customers directly.

“We are excited to be working with Revo on this campaign which will not only help start-up businesses make the crucial next step, it will also introduce new, dynamic retail concepts into our shopping destinations.”

Alan Hawkins, CEO of the British Independent Retailers’ Association said: “Independent retailers are essential to the diversity of shopping experiences. They bring excitement, create unique spaces and build authentic connections with local communities.

“As bira, we want to do everything we can to help make sure there’s always a space for them. We are pleased to be working with Revo and the shopping centre landlords on the launch of Free Space+ which is aligned with our goal of supporting independent retailers and helping them thrive.

“Independent retailing in the UK has a bright future, and initiatives like this will help entrepreneurs who otherwise may not have been able to take that first step into getting a retail premises.”