Saving London’s small businesses? There’s an app for that

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The app will help local businesses to compare rent raises and ensure transparency among landlords. © Rahul Chakraborty

An alliance of East End small businesses is developing an app to help London’s struggling high streets.

Krissie Nicolson, founder of the East End Trades Guild, an alliance of 250 East London businesses, wants to encourage transparency on commercial rents and stop tenants arbitrarily raising rents.

“It’s criminal if you think about how many small businesses struggle and close their doors each year,” Nicolson said.

“Commercial property law says that if you can produce evidence of lower rates locally, you can argue against rent rises with your landlord. The app will empower small business owners as long as they’re willing to share the information.”

Transport for London and Tower Hamlets Council plan to share their data and get involved with the scheme.

Soaring rent prices are a serious issue for local businesses. Lucky Seven, a much-loved record shop in Stoke Newington, was forced to close last June after rents were raised by £4,000.

Now a shop selling sustainable yarn occupies the space where Jason Gore, Lucky Seven’s owner, used to flog old vinyl. “I don’t know how anyone can survive spending £27,000 each year on rent,” he said. “I was struggling at £23,000!”