Lille offers ‘trial shop’ scheme for new entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs in Lille and the surrounding areas will have chance to trial their business idea in central sites

The city of Lille (‎Hauts-de-France) is to introduce a “trial shop” system for new entrepreneurs, to allow them to test their business idea in good conditions, and help fight the growing decline of city centres.

The scheme, called “Ma Boutique d’Essai (my trial shop)” in French, will allow promising entrepreneurs to open their business idea in a vacant shop unit in the centre of town for six months, to test if it works.

Successful ventures will be able to renew the contract once, for another six months.

Business owners will get access to a prime location at a low rental price, receive a grant for costs, or receive a zero interest loan for the site.

The scheme will apply to all communes in the Métropole Européenne de Lille (MEL) area.

Communes wishing to take part should compile a list of all the vacant shop units in the area, and contact the current owners to negotiate a good rental deal.

Once this stage has been reached, the terms can then be signed in the context of a charter, drawn up by the scheme’s administrators, La Fédération des Boutiques à l’Essai.

A full list of participating communes can be seen on the official website.

Each business will have to apply for the space, with a panel deciding on the ultimate winners. The business owner will be supported by the Fédération during set-up.

If the business is successful, the owner may be offered a longer lease.

The scheme is aiming not only to support new entrepreneurs, but also to revitalise town centres by encouraging new ideas to fill up shop units that would otherwise remain empty.

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