Budding entrepreneurs to go head to head in Shrewsbury competition

Budding Shropshire entrepreneurs are getting ready to go head to head in the market place as part of an annual young enterprise competition.

Teams of students from secondary schools and colleges across the county will be setting up shop at the Darwin Shopping Centre next Saturday (January 31) and a week later, on Saturday, February 7.

The fairs, on the Centre’s Middle Level, will be a chance for some of the area’s brightest young business brains, who have set up their own companies as part of the competition, to promote their unique products and services.

Judges from the Young Enterprise Company will be keeping a close eye on how they get on and to judge how well their products sell but also how they deal with the general public, how they work as a team and their overall attitude.

Two teams from Shrewsbury Girls’ High School will be vying for the trophy but accept the competition will be fierce.

Student, Ella Rees, 16, has been elected as managing director of the Peek a Beau company which sells baby and toddler products sourced from the internet.

Ella, who is studying A-level History, Politics, French and Spanish, said: “The team is made up of 13 girls with everyone having a specific role such as sales director, finance, stock control and so forth.

“We chose the name Peek a Beau as we wanted to incorporate a play on words in the name to make it a little bit different and unique.

“We decided on buying and selling baby clothes and accessories, such as dribble bibs and onesies, as the basis for our business and sourcing stock over the internet.

“However, having attended several Christmas fairs, one at our own school, another school and a nursery we discussed sales, which didn’t quite go as well as we expected, and decided to expand our range to include clothing for toddlers too.”

She added: “The Young Enterprise scheme has taught us all a great deal about team work. I’m hoping my career will be in law but most team members are studying business at A-level so the programme really suits them.”

Anna Macpherson, also 16, of Telford, is the managing director of the school’s second Young Enterprise team, Illuminate, which sells their own scented candles.

Anna, who is studying art, maths, history and economics at A-level, said: “We make our own candles so we source the materials and make our own designs.

“There are 12 members of the team with everyone having a role. We took the cost of the raw materials, such as the wax and different scents, and then worked out the cost of making a single candle and how much we needed to charge to reach our target profit.

“We set up a stall at our school Christmas fair and sales went really, really well. In fact we sold out. That meant we all spent much of the Christmas holidays making more candles!”

The school has been involved in the Young Enterprise Programme for five years and Head of Economics and Business Marion Rumble said: “It really is a brilliant scheme and the business advisors that come in and mentor teams are really helpful. They offer guidance and explain the pitfalls as well as good business practice.

“Our students benefit from the experience and potentially make some excellent links with local companies. In fact we have seen past students go out to various firms on work experience which certainly benefits both parties.

“It also gives students first-hand experience of running a business. They elect students to the various roles such as managing director, finance and marketing directors or company secretary.

“As a school we have achieved numerous Young Enterprise awards but we’ve never won the overall prize. This year though we have two very competitive teams in Peek a Beau and Illuminate.

“They have already done several Christmas fairs off their own back and learned some very important lessons so we do have high hopes.”

Dave Graham, Young Enterprise Shropshire’s education relationships manager, said: “This is the 14th year young people from across Shropshire will have been taking part in the Young Enterprise Company Programme.

“We are delighted to again have the support of Shrewsbury’s Darwin Shopping Centre. The young people taking part are running businesses as part of this programme where they will gain the skills needed to compete in the real business world.”

The manager of Darwin, Pride Hill and Riverside Shopping Centres, Kevin Lockwood says he is thrilled to be once again hosting the Young Enterprise event.

He said: “There is no doubt Young Enterprise encourages young people to become entrepreneurs in their own right.

“There really is a fierce but healthy competition between teams as they battle for sales but also to show that their companies are organised and they have a well thought-out business plan.

“I’m quite sure we will see some of these young people build successful careers of their own within the local business community and it would be wonderful to see one or two perhaps take over units within the Darwin Centre as the starting point for new and exciting ventures.”

For more information on the Darwin, Pride Hill and Riverside Shopping Centres go to http://www.shrewsbury-shopping.co.uk

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