Friday, October 14, 2016

News: National enterprise award for Rotherham retailer

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A young entrepreneur whose shop is the focal point for the skate community in Rotherham has won a national award from the Prince's Trust.

Props Skate Store in Rotherham town centre is owned by Tom Jones and has been building up a cult following since opening at the end of 2011. Last year, the store kicked on and expanded into trick new premises in the Imperial Buildings.

Having received support on his journey through the Prince's Trust, the youth charity that supports 13 to 30 year-olds who are unemployed and those struggling at school and at risk of exclusion, Tom entered the Tomorrow's Business Awards which recognises enterprises who are making a positive difference to their own lives, their community or the environment through their businesses.

Tom was one of three national winners taking home £3,000 to be invested in the business. The trio attended a recent celebration event hosted by NatWest in their offices which saw the successful businesses receiving coaching and mentoring sessions from high profile business people and experts to help them take their next step on their enterprise journey.

Trust Chairman, Lloyd Dorfman CBE, was joined by M&S CEO Steve Rowe and Claire Locke, founder of fashion retailer Artigiano and Vice Chair of the Trust's Enterprise Fellowship, in mentoring the young people. Senior NatWest representatives David Wheldon, Peter Ryan-Bell, James Gardiner and Kirsty Britz all spent time with the winners alongside Marcelino Castrillo, Head of Business Banking who presented the trophies.

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Martina Milburn CBE, chief executive of The Prince's Trust, said: "The Tomorrow's Business Awards were designed to showcase the talent and innovation of young people who have set up businesses with help from The Prince's Trust. We're proud of all the young people who, with our support, transform their lives and set up their own amazing businesses, so choosing the winners was difficult."

Tom Jones, owner of Props Skate Store (pictured with his award), said: "I grew up in a deprived area and there seemed to be no jobs available. I was stuck in a rut for a long time and felt like giving up. So many young people were in the same boat as me, and spend their time hanging around down at the park. It was soul-destroying.

"Rotherham has become increasing run down over the past few years, but I love the area and felt passionate about bringing people back into the community again – to help boost the local economy.

"Young people who used to hang out at the park are now taking up skating and coming to my shop to hang out – so I am really pleased that I have given something positive to keep them focused."

Tom managed to secure a loan from the Trust's Enterprise programme, which helped with purchasing stock, and opened in his first premises in a shop unit close to Rotherham market and the town's college campus. The current premises (pictured) allows Tom to print new designs on site and there's even a skate ramp set up in the basement.
Tom added: "I literally had no business experience before I came to The Prince's Trust, but the course gave me the confidence straight away. I had the idea of setting up a skate shop in Rotherham town centre and with the support of the trust, I decided to go for it.

"The Trust give me a business mentor and it was so helpful to have someone to talk to and advice me on my business plan – something I would have never imagined myself doing before.

"I am amazed at how my business has evolved and grown. Over the past five years I have managed to move into bigger premises in the centre of town and develop my own brand of clothing. I also organise skating events all over the borough for local skaters on a regular basis which is great fun. Props is not only a skate store but continues to be a community hub where young people meet on a regular basis to get advice and mutual support."

Having also received support from Rotherham Youth Enterprise (RYE), Tom is a previous winner of the Rotherham Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, picking up the title in 2012.

Props Skate Store website

Images: Prince's Trust / Props / Facebook


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