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A Hypothetical Case Study - Retail firm in Wales

July 2007 (School for Startups)

This is a fictional study intended to highlight the variety of government grants and other assistance available to entrepreneurs. Simon is a ficitional character based in Blaenau Gwent, South Wales, who wished to start up a book store.

Simon had a business idea. He wanted to set up a book store in his town. Reading was a popular past-time in the Blaenau Gwent region. There were a few small book shops but numerous book clubs. Simon himself was a member of a book club and it was at one of their meetings that he struck upon this idea.

However, Simon had no business experience to start up such a project. After receiving encouragement from family and friends, Simon searched for funding and assistance to start this project. He was able to find information and various links to make his idea a reality. He was first directed to his local council website. The councils have numerous business grants available for start-up companies and small companies looking to expand. For a list of all UK council websites, please click here .

Blaenau Gwent had three particular grants which were suitable for this venture: the Kick Start Grant, Business Planning/Feasibility Study Grant and a Marketing Grant. Using the planning grant, Simon was able to obtain professional external advice on the feasibility of his idea. He was able to develop his idea further with valuable suggestions such as creating a coffee bar and a room-for-hire to book clubs. With his business plan, Simon took out a second mortgage on his house to obtain the premises for his new business. His successful application for the Kick Start Grant assisted in financing his purchases of books from the publishers. The £5000 he received from the marketing grant enabled him to properly advertise his business to the whole county.

Within a year, Simon’s book store - “Simons” - had become a thriving business. He now wanted to expand his business. He was advised to browse through a list of various grants and links concerned with promoting business in South Wales. Through the Supply Chain Management Development Centre for South Wales, Simon was advised on how to expand his business through South Wales – not just with new stores, but by going online.

Simon’s successful application for the small business loan fund in South East Wales helped in creating stores in the neighbouring counties. This also made Simons eligible to grants from neighbouring counties too. The e-commerce for retail grant was beneficial in setting up their website as a rival to Amazon and other online book retailers. There were commercial improvement grants in many counties allowing Simon to develop his premises.

Within three years, Simons had reached a stage where it looked to expand throughout South Wales. However, to compete with other larger stores, Simons had to be able to maintain its market share. Simon was able to locate national grants and consultancy firms to assist his business. For a list of national grants available to Wales, click here.

With the financial aid provided by the rural retail programme and the advice from a specialist business mentoring consultancy, Simon was able to differentiate his store from other large chains. His employees were encouraged to forge personal relationships with their customers. This ensured Simons retained their market share and remains the largest book store chain in South Wales

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