18 Jan 2022

Derby’s high street tipped to thrive with new support scheme for independent businesses

High street businesses in Derby are being offered a helping hand to step into the 21st century with a package of free support to implement modern forms of trading.

Up to 100 retail, hospitality and leisure organisations can benefit from access to expert advice via the Derby Business Resilience Programme, which is funded by Derby City Council and delivered in partnership with East Midlands Chamber.

Advisers can assist in establishing an online business strategy and, depending on requirements, the creation of a fully search engine-optimised e-commerce website with 12 months’ free web hosting provided by Derbyshire-based digital marketing agency Purpose Media.

Grants to cover bespoke consultancy support are available to some eligible businesses, while aspects of the support scheme are also open to companies in the transport industry supply chain.

East Midlands Chamber head of enterprise Paul Stuart said: “Purchasing habits have changed as a result of Covid-19, with fewer in-store visitors and a move towards online transactions.

“We expect this to be a long-term shift, so it’s vital that businesses ensure they see this as an opportunity, rather than a threat.

“By engaging with the Derby Business Resilience Programme, small businesses can benefit from expert support to equip themselves with the right mix of tools needed for the online world – something that will complement their existing services, attract new customers and, ultimately, future-proof their organisations.”

What does the Derby Business Resilience Programme involve?

Derby City Council has provided £200,000 in funding towards the programme, with East Midlands Chamber contributing £42,000.

It is aimed at independent micro or small businesses based within the city council’s area that can demonstrate the adverse impact of Covid-19 on their trade.

The fully-funded support includes a dedicated business resilience adviser with specific digital or business support skills, who can work alongside a company to help develop an online business plan.

This involves reviewing current marketing and social media activities, setting up a Google listing or even signing up a company to its first social media account.

By setting up e-commerce websites with features such as click and collect or other delivery options, businesses can increase their profile and use their virtual shop window to drive greater footfall to both their physical and online store.

One year’s membership of the Chamber is also provided – giving them access to business protection services in HR, health and safety, tax and legal issues, as well as discounts on member products and services – while they will be able to attend regular events and webinars to increase their digital know-how.

Councillor Steve Hassall, cabinet member for regeneration, decarbonisation, strategic planning and transport at Derby City Council, said: “The last couple of years have been incredibly tough for all business, and our local retail, hospitality and leisure businesses have been hit especially hard.

“We want to do all we can to offer practical support to independent retail and leisure firms across Derby and help drive our recovery from the pandemic. I’d encourage businesses to apply quickly to take advantage of this scheme.”

Going digital is giving businesses ‘a renewed optimism for the future’

Award-winning, full-service marketing agency Purpose Media has been approved to deliver digital marketing advice, and to design and build websites for those businesses that are eligible.

The company, based in South Normanton, has previously worked alongside the Chamber in delivering the Chesterfield Digital High Street project, which has offered similar support to more than 30 businesses – ranging from gin shops and cafés to hairdressers and butchers.

Purpose Media business development manager Grace Golden said: “Through our work in the Chesterfield Digital High Street project, we have helped businesses learn new ways to engage with customers, attract business and increase profitability.

“By implementing new activity online such as posting videos or using Facebook advertising, they have renewed optimism for their future and have confidence in their ability to marketing their business.

“We believe the Derby Business Resilience Programme can be equally successful for independent businesses in the Derby City Council area. It intends to help businesses attract new customers, drive footfall to retail stores, establish an e-commerce website and improve visibility online.”

An information session about the Derby Business Resilience Programme will be held at Derby Enterprise Centre on Thursday 20 January. Businesses have until 31 March to apply for support.

For more information, call 0330 053 8639 or info@emc-dnl.co.uk