Start-up firms and small traders have chance to thrive at Chester Retail Park

NEW businesses and small traders are being given a chance to thrive at Chester Retail Park.

Thrive GB on Old Seals Way is a different concept to usual retail stores, offering a ‘pop-up’ platform for start-ups and small traders that are looking to reach the wider community with their entrepreneurial ideas.

Operating within the large unit that once housed ‘Outfit’ and brands within the Arcadia Group, Thrive GB is a large food-hall, café/bar and huge open ‘Butlers’ market offering local and regionally sourced wines and spirits, homeware, plants and beauty.

Small businesses have a variety of ways to showcase their products within the large store; via a staffed or unstaffed concession, drop-shipping via the upcoming e-commerce website or selling in-person at the artisan Butlers market.

Thrive GB is being supported by Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Business Support Programme and funded by an additional restrictions grant (ARG), which is helping businesses to grow and succeed by paying for start-up, commercial and training costs.

Martin Butler, of Thrive GB, said: “Our ethos is about creating a platform for artisan, sustainable, local and less established brands to give these talented makers a home. The store has a farmers-market style foodhall, pop-up market, cafe & bar, organic beauty, gifting and homeware department.”

Among the businesses operating at the foodhall is TVJ Bakery, which is run by Luke Jones from Chester, who has ambitions to service local hotels with his gluten-free baked products including delicate pastries, authentic pizzas and feather-light cakes.

There is also a variety of lifestyle crafts and homeware on sale such as Mark Sollars’ ‘Quirky Lighting’ stall, offering customers’ niche décor, as well as Woodfords Aromatherapy, which is run by aromatherapist Paula Marshall who has developed a range of massage balms.

There are also services available for visitors such as Spencer’s Friends, which is a mobile shoe-fitting service for children that aims to take the stress out of the new-term ‘nightmare’.

Councillor Richard Beacham, cabinet member for inclusive growth, economy and regeneration, said: “Through the West Cheshire Business Support Programme, we’ve been able to support a diverse range of businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs; with a mix of start-up funding, skills support and assistance with capital to get them off the ground.

“‘Thrive’ is an example where we’ve been able to support the retail sector, much affected by Covid and in doing so have championed local entrepreneurs by providing a platform for them to showcase their products and services, which we hope will benefit other businesses too.”

The West Cheshire Business Support Programme is supported by Blue Orchid and West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce.

Carol Vella, from West Cheshire North Wales Chamber, said: “It’s been an absolute privilege for us to be able to work with new and growing businesses across West Cheshire; to be able to offer them small scale financial support to develop and grow and upskill their business.

“The Thrive concept is great, bringing together local/regional brands under one roof and has scope for future events and pop-ups to offer a real valuable community space.”

Chester and District Standard | Business