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Small People Make Big Business

Small People Make Big Business

CHILDREN showed that the future of small independent businesses in the UK is in good hands when they took over a group of family-run shops for the day in Stratford upon Avon.

The youngsters stepped into the bosses’ shoes as part of Small Business Saturday (7 December) – taking control of The Minories shopping courtyard in the centre of the historic Warwickshire town.

A restaurant, sewing shop, hair and beauty salon and a specialist shoe shop were among those to come under new management for the day.

“We were involved in all parts of the business,” explained Olympios Gougoulias, 11-year-old “manager” of El Greco Restaurant. “We met and served customers, dealt with phone calls, handled deliveries and made sure all the staff were doing their jobs.”

He added: “I have to be honest, I am not sure what all the fuss is about, as long as you are organised and keep a level head it seems quite straight forward running a business. If I didn’t have to go to school, I think I would be happy to do it full-time! “

Portfolio Holder for Business at Stratford District Council, Cllr Maurice Howse was among those who popped down to the shops to check how the youngsters were doing.

He said: “It was fabulous to see so many young people giving up their time to experience real life enterprise. I have no doubt that some of them will be running their own business empires in the future.”

He went on: “You only have to look at the way the economy is developing in this country to see how small businesses are continuing to grow in importance. So the sooner young people are exposed to the world of business the better, to enable them to see the options open to them in the future. And we should never forget small business can often lead to big business!”

Small Business Saturday was aimed at supporting the five million small businesses up and down the country, by encouraging people to shop local.

Championed by Shadow Business Innovation and Skills Minister Chukka Umunna, the idea was also backed by Prime Minister David Cameron and a number of business groups and entrepreneurs including the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and Dragons’ Den star James Caan.

The Minories event was one of hundreds that took place across the country. It also coincided in Warwickshire with the launch of a FSB “Keep Trade Local” campaign whereby shoppers are being challenged to buy goods locally until 12 December. By logging their purchases online they could win £250.

FSB’s Coventry and Warwickshire Regional Chairman, Ian O’Donnell, said it was important that the public supported their local independent businesses.

He said: “Just as big supermarkets and other retailers have an important role in the local community, so too is it essential to have vibrant local traders.

“We must remember that small businesses really are the engine room of the economy as they employ more than half of all private sector workers and contribute 50 per cent of UK GDP.”

“We hope that this campaign will encourage businesses and local people to work together and make their local high street a place to visit. We need to help people understand they must use their local high street – or risk losing it for good.”

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