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Retail Enterprise Network

Partnership information


Retail EnterpriseAim

The aim of the Retail Enterprise DP was to develop ways of protecting and widening diversity for SME retailers who were under threat from large multiples and changing consumer patters within the retail sector (including e-commerce and retail services).


The main objectives of the project were to:
  • Create an observatory of research amongst small retailers.

  • Research the training needs of small retailers.

  • Develop learning programmes to meet the needs identified.

  • Develop a website containing support and information relating to the research and access to the learning materials.

The partnership was formed in October 2002 and was to run until November 2005. Manchester Metropolitan University, the lead partner, is one of 6 DTI 'Centres of Excellence' in retail education and had been running retail education programmes for over 12 years. Other partners (the British Institute of Retailing, DNTO and the Institute of Grocery Distribution) also had in-depth knowledge of the sector. They were responsible for helping to identify the skills/attribute/knowledge needs of entrepreneurs and developing learning/training material. The Association of Convenience Stores facilitated access to existing SMEs as it represents the interests of over 25,000 small retailers. In addition, partners with technical knowledge (such as MyKnowledgeMap.com ltd and Shopcreator) could bring 'state of the art' expertise in areas such as e-commerce and knowledge/information management to small enterprises that would not normally have had access to these innovations. University of Wales College had expertise in the problems facing SMEs in disadvantaged, post-industrial areas and Staffordshire University had links to many high street lenders. Finally, the partnership included the London Institute who have successfully run many ESF projects and who were involved in the monitoring of the project.

Target Beneficiary Groups

The beneficiaries of the project were small retailers.



Transnational partnerships


Cathy Parker, Manchester Metropolitan University,

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Business creation


Drug and alcohol misusers, Ex-offenders, Lone parents and people with care responsibilities, Other, People from disadvantaged areas (top 10% most deprived wards), People over 50
Total beneficiaries: 545


Research information was gathered through talking to a number of support organisations and retailing networks. This was followed up by a full questionnaire that was completed by 1,000 small retailers across the UK.

A wider partnership was formed through a website that aimed to bring together all parities. This was free to all partners.

The lobbying of government resulted in the development of an all party group for small shops which is currently seeking advice from the Retail Enterprise Network in relation to bullying in the business chain.

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