Theo and Barclays Ask Public to "Back Your Local Businesses"

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Barclays business banking and Theo Paphitis are looking to give the nation's local businesses a lift with a campaign to find Britain's Best Local Business.

Local businesses are the unsung heroes of our communities. They provide jobs for millions of workers, contribute billions to the UK economy and bring people together forming the backbone of communities across the country.

Retail expert and Dragons' Den star, Theo Paphitis, has teamed up with Barclays Local Business to kick off a search for the best loved local business in the UK.

Theo joins a panel of experts in choosing which deserving businesses from up and down the country will receive a share of £85,000 worth of prizes and cash.

Firms can only be entered into the competition by their customers' nominations - and Barclays is asking people to join in and show their support by proposing their favourite smaller companies.

By telling Barclays how the business treats them as a customer, about its contribution to the local economy and its place in the local community, consumers will be able to put forward Britain's best local businesses to win.

Theo Paphitis said: "Everyone has their favourite local firm. The diversity of UK small businesses is mind boggling and it's what makes our high streets up and down the country truly unique.        

"Wherever I go in the world, I set aside time to visit local shops and businesses for new ideas and inspiration and no one does it better than us. The UK has been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug and we are still seeing a steady stream of committed individuals with the ideas and drive to run their own business despite challenging market conditions."

"I want people that put their heart and soul into making their business a success and stand out from the crowd to be rewarded. I'd encourage everyone to think about the best local business they know, and nominate it for our competition."

"But there is another great way to support the scheme, and that is by pledging your support online - this is a promise that you will support your local businesses where possible. The Sun will highlight the people who pledge their support through a ticker-tape across their website."

Steve Cooper, Managing Director of Barclays Local Business, said: "Barclays recognises that local businesses are at the heart of our communities and they are utterly crucial to regional economies. We want to recognise their contribution to daily life and so we've put together a competition to highlight their great work."

There will nine regional winners with eight of them taking home £5,000 in prize money and a one year free business support package from Barclays.

The overall winner will receive £20,000 in cash, as well as three years of free business support from Barclays.

Not only that, but the deserving winner will also benefit from a personal one to one mentoring session with Theo himself.

To make a nomination and for full competition terms and conditions go to http://www.barclays.co.uk/bbb.

The closing date for entries is the 6th June.

Loyal customers entering their favourite business stand to gain as well - with the best nomination for each of the 9 regional finalists winning £1000.

Business Secretary Peter Mandelson said: "Local businesses are the unsung heroes of our communities. They provide jobs for millions of workers, contribute billions to the UK economy and bring people together forming the backbone of communities across the country."

The campaign is being run in association with the Sun Newspaper.

For further information:

Contact
Michael O'Toole
Barclays Press Office
020 7116 6145

Notes to editors:

Full details can be found at http://www.barclays.co.uk/bbb.

The deadline for nominations is 6th June.

Winners will be chosen in 9 regions: South West, Southern, London South, London North, Central, Eastern, Western, North East and North West (including Scotland & Ireland). 8 of these businesses will receive £5000 plus 1 year of free business support from Barclays .

The overall national winner will receive £20,000, 3 years of free business support from Barclays, and personal one to one mentoring session with Theo Paphitis.

Winner's announcement date 24th June 2009.

Theo Paphitis and Steve Cooper are available for further comment and interview on request and will be dealt with on a first come/first served basis.

Barclays Local Business provide great value to their customers by offering services and a comprehensive range of tailored business banking products to more than 600,000 businesses typically with a turn over less than £1 million. We support businesses with:

  •     1600 local business managers in 600 locations
  •     Start-ups get standard banking transactions free for up to 12 months with the ability to extend to 2 years.
  •     Flexibility to bank when and how they want - online and telephone banking and a full counter service at 1600 branches nationwide
  •     In the longer term businesses can choose various banking packages which give a choice of free automated payments or credit interest. These packages also include different levels of further support from online training to credit management facilities.

Barclays Local Business

Barclays Local Business is the small business banking arm of Barclays. It has over 660,000 customers that are a mixture of start ups, sole traders, partnerships and small limited companies. These turnover up to £1 million each.

We support businesses with:

  •     A named business manager, locally based is allocated to all clients. We have 1,600 Local Business Managers in 600 locations
  •     Give start-ups standard banking transactions free for up to 18 months. Wide range of free advice and information - Starting & Running Your Business CD-ROM; consultations with a panel of legal, accountancy & marketing experts; Business Opportunity Profiles & Business Information Factsheets; Legal & tax helpline, free I-sure data back up; free 'Mindleaders' online business skills training worth £1,000 and award winning software packages that will help save businesses time and money.
  •     Flexibility to bank when and how customers want - online and telephone banking and a full counter service at 1600 branches nationwide

Other actions to support small business include:

  •     Barclays currently has approximately £15 billion in lending balances in place with SME customers in the UK market, up six per cent year-on-year
  •     Barclays is committed to making at least a further £1.5 billion available to SMEs in 2009, bringing its total commitment to around £16.5 billion by the end of 2009
  •     Barclays is making available its CreditFocus service free of charge to all UK small businesses in 2009, whether or not they are a Barclays customer
  •     Barclays is running 500 events throughout the UK in 2009 under the 'Let's Talk' banner, which are free of charge, open to all individuals thinking about starting a business and also to existing small business owners. To book onto seminars businesses can visit http://www.barclays.co.uk/seminars or call 0800 515 462.

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Michael O’Toole
Barclays
020 7116 6145
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