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Small businesses offered rent-free spaces on London's Oxford Street

Sophie Smith
19 July 2023

Small businesses are being offered the chance to take over a shop on Oxford Street, rent-free, as part of a new project launched by Westminster City Council, in partnership with New West End Company.

Called Meanwhile On: Oxford Street, the programme invites applications from "innovative, cutting-edge and up-and-coming brands who will offer something exciting and new to one of the world's most iconic shopping streets".

The programme forms part of Westminster City Council’s wider Fairer Economy plan to invest in high streets throughout the borough.

It hopes to support small businesses seeking the opportunity to trade in London’s West End, including brands looking to launch their first store or physical space.

Selected brands will be given a store location for an initial six-month period, which will be rent-free with a minimum 70% reduction in business rates.

Stores will either be available for single occupancy or as a themed concept store shared between multiple brands.

The businesses selected can use the space to help bring their brand’s story to life, for example through new technologies or interactive exhibitions.

However, selected applicants must be prepared to fund any other costs associated with running a store for six months and show their potential for longevity after they have used the programme to develop their brand.

Westminster City Council have appointed retail placemaking consultancy Someday Studios to deliver the three-year project.

Design agency FormRoom will design the first store, bringing experience from retailers including Fortnum and Mason, Liberty, Harrods and Selfridges.

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