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Start-ups offered chance to get in front of John Lewis ‘Dragons’

A new national enterprise campaign is offering British start-ups the chance to get their products into John Lewis stores through a Dragon’s Den-style pitch.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Start-ups offered chance to get in front of John Lewis ‘Dragons’

StartUp Britain has joined forces with the retailer to launch PitchUp, an initiative that will give emerging British retailers the opportunity to pitch their products to the department store.

To be shortlisted businesses will need to submit a well-developed product concept, which will help win them access to John Lewis buyers. The finalists will then have the opportunity to work closely with the buyers who will help them refine their products through a bespoke mentoring scheme, with the aim of seeing their design stocked on John Lewis shelves.

StartUp Britain co-founder Emma Jones said: "Getting a foot through the door of a major high street retailer is what dreams are made of for small businesses.

"We’re delighted that John Lewis has joined us to offer talented British businesses a unique opportunity. This is a really great example of what can happen when big helps small – and it’s just what British start-ups need."

Anna Rigby, head of buying, home accessories & gifts at John Lewis added: "The StartUp Britain scheme is really exciting on a number of levels and we are proud to be part of PitchUp, which actively supports British business.  

"Through PitchUp we’ll be looking for new products and services from emerging British-based talent that will delight our customers. We are particularly keen to find new products that offer innovation, function and unique design combined with a commercial edge and we look forward to working with a range of talented businesses and playing our part in helping to nurture Britain’s future retailing talent."

Businesses have until 17 September to apply online to be in with a chance of being included in the pitching event on 23 October, which will see finalists presenting to a panel of John Lewis buyers.

Selected finalists will be given expert mentoring from the John Lewis buyers that  will include practical guidance and assistance to help develop and prepare a final design that is ready for sale.

The competition is part of a wider initiative called StartUp High Street, launched earlier this year, which saw StartUp Britain offer co-funded retail space to online start-ups via empty high street shops. So far PopUp Britain has seen 22 start-ups co-working in an empty estate agents shop in Richmond, Surrey.  The campaign has plans to roll out its pop-up blueprint to areas around the UK, helping to rejuvenate flagging high streets.

To enter PitchUp, British hopefuls should fill out the form at http://www.startupbritain.co/pitchup


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