Independent retailers in the South-West of England are being invited to sign up to the second phase of a village shop support package.

The Store is the Core programme, which is managed by Community First with funding from the South West of England Regional Development Agency, aims to support 150 independent village shops over the next 18 months.

The scheme is designed to ensure stores have access to vital services and help maintain a vibrant and sustainable future for rural communities, said Tim Coomer, rural enterprise adviser for Community First. Support will include business advice and training, plus a local mentor to help stores engage better with their communities. Stores will also be helped to access any potential grant opportunities.

To qualify, stores must be the only outlet in their villages selling provisions, and have no other grocery store within two miles. Annual turnover must be above £100,000 and not exceed £500,000 per annum, and stores must employ at least one external member of staff.

For more information, visit www.communityfirst.org.uk, or phone 01380 732812.

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