Retail entrepreneurs drive start up borrowing in London

Retailers have had a tough few years following the economic downturn with leading high street names struggling to win over consumers who have been watching their pennies amid concerns over inflation and job security. Retail entrepreneurs have not been deterred however, instead grabbing the opportunity to shake up the market and start their own retail business while interest rates are low and consumers are increasingly seeking alternatives online.

The rapidly changing retail landscape has provided vast opportunity for retail start ups to reach consumers without the overheads traditionally associated with such ventures. A total of £731.8m is now spent online each week in the UK, an increase of 10.1 per cent compared with 2013 (ONS Retail Sales – Sept 2014), making it easier than ever for entrepreneurs to market and sell directly to their target customers and remain in control of the selling experience.

“Retail start ups clearly have a central role to play in growing the UK’s creative output”, said James Pattison, CEO of Startup Direct. “The online shopping revolution has come hand in hand with growing demand for unique, niche products and our entrepreneurs are grabbing the bull by the horns. London is a hotbed of creative ideas and it’s exciting to see these coming to life, driven by entrepreneurs with incredible belief and passion for their products.”

Case study: Chloe’s story

Chloe Hoole established ethical babywear brand Darlo ( in 2013 following a trip to India and South America. There she came up with the idea of a business that puts giving to disadvantaged children in developing countries at the heart of the purchase decision, with each product sold in the UK provides a week’s worth of meals for a child in India. It was a steep learning curve for Chloe and her partner Jim, who had little textiles, design or manufacturing experience, but with two Startup Direct loans totaling £7,500 they set off on their journey, culminating in the successful launch of their online shop earlier this month.

Chloe said: “I was on a wooden canoe boat bobbing down the Amazon when the idea to start an ethical babywear brand came to me.  I had always dreamt of starting a fashion retail business but once the idea had formed I found myself carried along by an overwhelming need to see it through to fruition.

“I was overwhelmed by the lack of support structures in various developing countries when travelling so it was important to me to try and make a real difference to the lives of children in India, where our clothes are manufactured. We’ve recently received our first shipment of clothes from India and our living room is piled high with product boxes, labels, packing, tissue paper and string!”

To apply for a start up loan, visit