AN empty shop in Chard which was brought back to life a year ago is helping businesses get a foothold in the town, it has emerged.

Chard was the first town in the South-West to launch the Pop Up shop in August last year and joined eight others nationwide but now they have become much more popular.

The Pop Up idea enables budding entrepreneurs to try out their ideas in a real retail environment without a long term commitment.

Chard Town Team run the shop and have been offering free professional business advice and shop space for entrepreneur businesses.

They have taken on 11 tenants looking to develop their business ideas.

Kevin Wood, one of the first tenants back in August 2013 has been trading successfully for almost a year in Holyrood Street.

He said: “I would like to thank the Pop Up Shop team for the opportunity they gave me to develop my business ideas.

“Thanks to their help, I was able to move forward and open Somerset Media Solutions with Anne Perez.

“It's continued success means we have now outgrown our current office and will soon be moving to the High Street.”

Other Pop Up tenants during the year have developed business models ranging from retailing at county shows to organising craft fairs.

Neil Ling of Area 51 Antiques and Collectables and Kate Mason and Lesley Mumford who have formed a partnership trading as All Kinds of Everything, will be moving into retail units in Holyrood Street.

Cllr Angie Singleton, chair of the Market Towns Investment Group, said: “We're very pleased that the Pop Up Chard programme has worked so well and we've had an excellent return in the number of new businesses that have now started up as a direct result of trading within the pop up shop.

“Giving businesses a chance to exhibit their goods or services gives them a degree of confidence in trading. With that and the free professional business advice, look what can be achieved in just one town within South Somerset”.