'Pop-up' shop plan will fill empty units
BUDDING entrepreneurs are set to be handed a quicker and cheaper route into running their own business – and help to fill empty town centre shops.
The 'pop-up' shops – which appear on high streets for short periods – are planned for Newcastle town centre.
The idea comes as a national report shows 18.2 per cent of shops in Newcastle town centre were empty at the end of June.
That compared with 16 per cent at the end of December and 15.4 per cent in June 2011.
Now North Staffordshire entrepreneur Mo Chaudry, right, is being brought in to mentor potential business owners.
Newcastle Borough Council is planning to offer lower or zero rents in selected vacant units to encourage the 'pop-up' shops.
Some smaller units in the town are available to rent for just £6,000 per year, which, under a Government incentive, means they are exempt from business rates until March 31.
The 'pop-up' venture was today backed by Mr Chaudry, who will offer guidance on how to launch a successful venture.
The 51-year-old, who owns Waterworld and M Club at Festival Park, said: "I live in the borough of Newcastle and have a number of commercial properties in the area.
"I was approached by Carl Evans from Newcastle Chamber of Trade about doing something like this and I thought it was in my interest to support it.
"If someone has a business plan I would help to mentor that person and bring in my own contacts to support it. Similar to Dragons Den, if I like what I see I may invest in it.
"This fits in with my commercial interests and my own ethos to help rejuvenate Newcastle.
"Newcastle has a lot going for it. It is a well-established market town and it is also a university town.
"It needs to look at its own strengths to move forward."
Chamber of trade president Mr Evans said: "It's a great idea to get the shops occupied.
"I agree with the idea of 'pop-up' shops but we would like to see action and hopefully before Christmas.
"We don't want more charity shops, we want to give people a reason to come to Newcastle."
Conservative councillor Andrew Fear said: "We should not try to compete with Hanley. We should look for something niche."