5 reasons to open your own retail business

Retail is one of the most popular sectors for entrepreneurs to start-up in. In fact, as Transmit Start-Ups revealed in their 1,000 Start-Ups Infographic, they have helped more businesses start up in retail than in any other sector. Transmit's commercial director Richard Myers tells us more...

If you’re thinking of opening your very own retail business, then here are five reasons that now might just be the perfect time to startup:

1. Independents Day

For some time now there has been a clear trend for shoppers to show their support for independent retailers by voting with their feet.

By providing a unique, personal experience, independents have been snapping at the heels of the larger retailers. According to research, 8 out of 10 consumers plan to use independent businesses in preference to larger businesses this year.

Simply Business’ annual High Street Tracker analysed over 69,085 independent retail outlets across the UK and reported a 110% increase in independent stores in the past five years as entrepreneurs look to benefit from this trend.

2. Start-ups reinventing retail through innovation

Start-ups across the UK are reinventing retail by providing a different experience or innovating the way people shop, and by doing so have the opportunity to take a slice of the pie from larger retailers who are paying the price for standing still.

High street retailing has increasingly become a recreational activity for shoppers rather than a practical experience and this opens up opportunities both for those looking to open a niche store or innovate the retail space through new ideas.

Testament to this, retailing giant John Lewis launched startup incubator JLAB in 2014 in an effort to find new technologies being developed by innovative start-ups that it can use in its stores.

3. Wider consumer trends a perfect fit for start-ups

It’s not only a passion for supporting independent retailers as the underdog that is providing the opportunity for success.

The stars also seem to be aligning for start-up retailers when it comes to wider consumer trends. Smaller stores, a personalised experience and a high-quality product and service are all tipped to be big consumer trends for 2017.

Let’s focus on those trends:

Smaller stores: We’ve already seen a shift here, with large retailers such as Debenhams and Ikea investing in smaller-format stores to accommodate consumer desire for more curated selections.

Personalisation: According to an Accenture Interactive study, “56% of consumers are more likely to shop at a retailer in store or online that recognizes them by name.”

Quality: Consumers are becoming more interested and invested in where their money’s going rather than simply what it’s buying. This means the heritage of a product and transparency of the supply chain has become increasingly important.

All of these trends spell great news for start-up retailers, as a smaller footprint, personalised service and delivering information on your products' backstories all come naturally to the independent store owner.

4. Access to finance

Whether you need to buy stock, rent your premises, build a website, hire staff or develop your very own app or software, you need upfront cash to get your idea off the ground.

When it comes to accessing finance, there has never been a better time to start your own business. There are more options available than ever before and the government’s Start-Up Loan programme has proven to be extremely successful, helping 40,000 businesses (many of them in retail) establish themselves through the provision of more than £250m worth of loans. 

As a delivery partner of the government’s scheme, our start-up loans service helps those starting up in industries that require an upfront cash injection. Our unsecured fixed-rate fixed-term loans of up to £25,000 can be used on those big-ticket items – ultimately making starting up possible.

5. Straight from the horse’s mouth

If you’re still unsure whether going it alone is for you, it’s always useful to hear from someone else who has been through the journey.

Stuart Bramley CEO of UP Clothing said: “Starting my own business meant I could combine two of my passions, fitness and business, and start up my own clothing brand, Unique Physique (UP) Clothing.

“The first year in business is an extremely fast roller-coaster, one minute you are up, the next you are down. You have to be persistent and map out your journey and plan.

“For me, persistence has paid off. Over the last year, we have sold clothing to over six countries and had celebrities wear the clothing, like George Shelley when he entered I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, England cricketer Ben Stokes and Rangers professional footballer Martyn Waghorn. We have steadily grown and got into a local retail store in Newcastle and also online stores.

“I have learnt a lot along the way. Not least that being by yourself is not a good option, you need to try and speak to as many people as possible and grow yourself and not just the business in order to keep it successful. We had great support from Transmit Start-Ups when we started and even though we hadn’t spoken for months, when I picked up the phone they were there.

“There really is nothing quite like making your own dream a reality. I would recommend it to anyone, but my one piece of advice would be to be open minded and seek advice from everyone possible.”


UK-wide, retail companies account for 10 per cent of all UK SMEs, 15 per cent of total SME employment and 34 per cent of all SME turnover. If you’re interested in becoming your own boss and starting your own retail business, find out more about Transmit Start-Ups and the work they do at, call 0845 094 3670 or email