The first of 4 new exciting businesses today opened its doors after 4 budding entrepreneurs fought off stiff competition to win the Wolverhampton Portas Pilot Idea2Reality competition.

Lee Savory, the man behind "Corpse Clothing" is opening in the Mander Centre. He's run a successful online business since 2002 specialising in importing much sought after Music, Film and TV memorabilia. He has identified the next level of growth will come from a store and is looking forward to the challenges this creates.

"People are scared to start-up businesses in the current climate but Idea2Reality is great as it has provided an excellent start for us. I think having an actual shop provides the human touch that an internet only company cannot provide while also providing a unique new offer for Wolverhampton. It is going to take a lot of hard work but I'm very much looking forward to it."

The other winners will be opening in the coming months. Oscar Campbell's The Fish Store is coming to Worcester Street in October. Fishmonger Oscar will offer a range of exotic fish products, from around the world. Evening classes in fish preparation and cookery will also be held there. Oscar commented "We believe there is a niche market here as Wolverhampton is a multi-cultural city and we will be able to give them a taste of home."

Also coming to Wolverhampton is Richard Brown's Hungry Bistro on Lichfield Street and Karolina Cumming's Kabanos, a Polish Delicatessen, to the Wulfrun Centre.

Seven finalists have been offered grants of £300 together with ongoing business support and a chance for some to display their goods and ideas at a city centre showcase shop.

Chairman of the Judges, Mander Centre Director Nick Pitt said " As a nation of shopkeepers we know the retail environment can be tough, particularly for independents. This scheme is supporting ambitious independents where it matters by significantly reducing start-up costs and providing awareness and retail support, through ongoing mentoring as they trade. We feel this will provide a best practice example of how cities can nurture independent retail entrants to the high-street, fast tracking their launch and delivering a sustainable future. "

Councillor Peter Bilson, Wolverhampton City Council's Cabinet Member for Economic Regeneration and Prosperity, said: "We are committed to creating a vibrant, city centre with a diverse offer for shoppers and visitors and these winners represent the opportunity for Independents to thrive in that environment. Entrepreneurship is something that we actively want to encourage in the city and we are really pleased that the Wolverhampton Portas Pilot Idea2Reality competition has put us on the right track for delivering."

Wolverhampton's Portas Pilot bid beat 400 other towns and cities to win a slice of the £1 million funding due to its innovative approach to developing sustainable businesses within Wolverhampton City Centre. The plans will be replicated by other cities throughout the country as a best practice guideline.

The Wolverhampton Portas Pilot bid supports the City Strategy by improving vacant shops, increasing footfall and vibrancy, raising the profile of the city centre and giving Wolverhampton a platform for lobbying.

The Idea2Reality project group includes WV One, Mander Centre, Wolverhampton City Council, Wolverhampton Business Solutions Centre, Access to Business and the University of Wolverhampton and is being managed by WV One.

The Idea2Reality competition is running in tandem with other key strands of the Wolverhampton Portas Pilot. Further information about the Wolverhampton Portas Pilot projects is available at Type=links;Linkid=1903;Title=Wolverhampton Portas Pilot;Target=_blank;.

  • released: Wednesday 29 May, 2013