2014 Retail Factor winner announced

The Mall Fund has named handmade, up-cycled jewellery and clothing company, Recluse Colony, the national winner of the Retail Factor 2014. The annual business competition, now in its eighth year, is designed to promote the next generation of entrepreneurs and provides contestants with the chance to trial their ideas in a busy shopping centre and to meet thousands of customers face to face.

Retail Factor, which launched in January, provided the 12 start-up and online businesses shortlisted from across the UK with the opportunity to trade rent-free at The Mall shopping centres for three weeks. Businesses were assessed by a panel of experts on commercial viability, originality, market appeal and development potential.

Based on its strong performance during the trading period at The Mall Wood Green, Recluse Colony was selected as the national champion by the judging panel, which included senior industry figures such as Ross Bailey of Appear Here and Andy McWilliams of Ann Summers.

Recluse Colony Founder, Lauren de Lacey, who works alongside 26 designers to create original, quirky products out of recycled materials, has been awarded a £1000 contribution towards stock and business mentorship from industry expert Andy McWilliams, Multi-Channel Director at Ann Summers.

Mark Bourgeois, Executive Director of Capital & Regional, owner of The Mall Fund said: "The Retail Factor continues to draw a diverse range of start-up and small businesses and it was a tough choice between each finalist. However, Recluse Colony stood out as a truly innovative concept and we were impressed by Lauren's natural business acumen and long-term strategy for her idea."

Andy McWilliams, Multi-Channel Director for Ann Summers and Retail Factor Judge added: "The way Lauren operates Recluse Colony in working with a large number of local designers, promotes a strong community message and it has great potential for development. I look forward to mentoring Lauren and watching her progress with Recluse Colony and build on her skills as a retail entrepreneur."

Ross Bailey, Founder of Appear Here, said: "Recluse Colony stood out as the clear winner for me. Lauren communicated the story of her brand very well, which is really important for anyone launching a new business. I was also excited by the idea of surprising shoppers with a concept they wouldn't normally see and upcycled goods are not something you would usually find in a shopping centre.

"It's great to be involved with projects like Retail Factor, they allow you meet people who are passionate about their ideas and determined to make them happen. It was amazing to see the passion and creativity of contestants and I'm hoping to hear more about them in the future."
Lauren de Lacey commented: "I'm thrilled with my Retail Factor victory. Taking part in the competition meant that I was able to receive valuable customer feedback that only a busy shopping centre environment can provide and I hope to continue working with The Mall Wood Green in the future. I am a passionate designer and business woman and I want to use this competition to take Recluse Colony to the next level. I would like to use it as a platform to invest in new designers and launch a creative road trip around the UK."

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