New hope for independent retailers in Marlow!

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Bella Italia exteriorAnother pop-up shop in Marlow – Bella Italia Trading Ltd – is set to close at the end of April due to the usual problem of being unable to afford to take on the full rent and rates costs of the shop.

Hope, however, lives on! The shop’s owner, Mauro Bernesi and his business partner Simon Bown are launching a new venture that they hope will provide a perfect solution to their own and other independent retailers problems in Marlow, as well as allow the town itself to benefit from the types of unique and exclusive products that provide the town with character and are such a draw for Marlow visitors.

“Many of our customers see a real need for this type of boutique shop in Marlow”, explains Mauro. “We have a solid customer base of repeat local visitors who appreciate our quality and prices and we also do well from visitors to Marlow who are looking to escape the shopping choices offered by chain-brands that they can easily find in their home towns.”

The problem for small independents in Marlow is that the rent and rates combined with other overheads makes it very difficult for them to be able to operate. The solution – formation of a consortium that allows costs to be split and shared.

“We are currently looking at a number of new locations for the shop but would ideally like to stay in Marlow if possible. What we would like to do is to invite other small independent retailers (ideally of food or wines) to join with us in sharing a shop. This will allow for shared rent, rates, bills and we can also offer shared options on staff and computerised inventory and payment solutions. Having a shared option means that we can also be flexible in terms of providing space depending on different business needs and in terms of length of tenancy commitment.”

Naturally there are also other benefits such as providing customers with an increased range of speciality products from different suppliers and shared advertising and promotional costs.

“People may come to the shop looking for just one of our Olive Oils but end up finding some creamy French Brie, a spicy Spanish Chorizo or some freshly baked bread”, notes Simon. “Long term we would like to establish a kind of food arcade for the town with a wide range of different suppliers on a larger scale. This would surely be a win for the people of Marlow, visitors to the town and the suppliers themselves.”

If you have an independent business and would be interested in learning more about shop-sharing in Marlow or the future plans for this venture then please contact Simon Bown on 07985 742100 or by e-mail:

Article author: Paul Merchant

About the author: Founded in its original version back in 2000 - yes the internet DID exist back then. Brought up in Marlow, went to school here, now has children at the same schools. Quite clearly loves all things Marlow - hence spending over 2 decades doing this!

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