Yorkshire’s youth hope to sell out

5 December 2013

100 students, aged 14 – 17 years old from LEAP (Leeds Enterprise Advisory Programme) will battle it out in the Merrion Centre’s annual Christmas trade fair on Saturday 7th December, 9am – 5pm.

Participating schools:

– Allerton High Business and Enterprise Specialist School

– The Grammar School at Leeds

– Woodhouse Grove School

– Ilkley Grammar School

– Gateways School, Leeds

Harrogate Ladies College

– Bradford Girls’ Grammar School

LEAP is a registered charity that encourages entrepreneurs. It enables young people to set up and run their own company for a year, under the guidance of a skilled business mentor. This year, students from seven different Yorkshire schools have registered 25 Companies to take part. 14 students are from Harrogate Ladies college. All students involved in LEAP must raise their own share capital, choose, make or buy a product, write a business plan and market that product.

Edward Ziff with 2012 participants
Edward Ziff with 2012 participants

The Merrion Centre is the only shopping centre to sponsor LEAP. This event is the first organised trade fair of the year, allowing students to showcase their products and sell to the general public. Shoppers are encouraged to visit the Merrion Centre, support their local schools and buy from the range of 25 stalls.

Karen Ward, LEAP coordinator at The Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL), said:

GSAL was one of the founder members of the LEAP scheme, which offers students an unrivalled opportunity to learn first-hand the skills necessary to run a successful business. We hope to match last year’s success, when we had a record number of students taking part and showing phenomenal creativity; from product choice through to innovative ideas for promotion using social media.

The Merrion Centre trade fair is a key event for our LEAP teams which helps kick start their sales, and we are grateful for the centre’s continued support in nurturing the business people of the future.

Edward Ziff, Chairman and Chief Executive of Town Centre Securities PLC will visit the stalls, offering advice and encouragement to the students. Town Centre Securities PLC will award one of the Student Company’s the title of ‘Best Retail Trade Stand, Christmas 2013’ presenting them with a glass trophy and £50 of book vouchers. There will also be prizes for two runners’ up.

Yvette Huddleston  of Gateways said:

Gateways has been participating in LEAP for many years – we have found it to be a very valuable experience for our students and we look forward to continuing our involvement with the scheme.

LEAP, which nine volunteers run, is passionate about equipping young people with the skills they need to be successful, whether that’s going to University or finding a job. All the teachers, judges and business mentors volunteer their time.

Miles Mount, Founder of LEAP, comments:

We’ve been organising the LEAP initiative for seven years now and each year we all feel a huge sense of achievement watching our candidates grow, flourish and ultimately gain a new found confidence. Students can appear so nervous at their first trade fair and then by the end of the academic year they’re standing in front of 400 people giving a presentation, if that’s not success I don’t know what is!

Our board of nine volunteers work full time as well as being involved in other charity initiatives. We do what we do because we really believe in the programme. We strive to encourage business acumen, teamwork and problem solving in all our candidates. As a charity we also rely on the help and support ofother businesses in the community. We’ve been hosting fairs at the Merrion Centre since we began seven years ago; we run two a year and we find everyone incredibly helpful, from the centre manager to the cleaning staff! It’s really beneficial for our students to be part of the shopping centre, the busy, diverse environment provides an invaluable working experience and learning.

 2012 winner, Revival Clothing. Jessica Nicholson, then aged 17 years old. Revival sold to several Leeds shops including major online stores
2012 winner, Revival Clothing. Jessica Nicholson, then aged 17 years old. Revival sold to several Leeds shops including major online stores

Students are invited back into the Merrion Centre for the Valentine’s trade fair on the 8th February 2014, where they are given the opportunity to sell to the general public again. All profits from the trade fairs will go towards the end of year assessment where candidates will present their Company and its results to a panel of independent business advisors, including the marketing team at the Merrion Centre, as well as writing a detailed annual report with financial accounts. Participants can keep their profits and distribute to their shareholders, but many arrange to donate a large proportion to charity.

Various awards are presented as well as announcing an overall winner, including; best presentation, best marketing and best report. Students are awarded trophies and certificates but more importantly it is about the kudos of taking part that ultimately gives the students credibility with future employees.

This year, Harrogate Ladies Collge  have two companies : Customeyes and Eureka.

Customeyes have already taken over £700 sales revenue. They make customised bracelets for a target market of young people aged between three and twenty. They are also releasing some exciting customised notepads (eyepads!!) for the Merrion Centre Competition. Rhiannon Gruenwald, MD for the company, says, “We never realised just how exhausting business is, but are loving the experience!”

Eureka have sold most of their unusual and quirky hair products and are going to be selling winter warming gifts at the Merrion Centre.

Edward Ziff, Chairman and Chief executive of Town Centre Securities PLC, comments:

We’re delighted to support the LEAP trade fair again. It’s amazing how much dedication, commitment and integrity these students show, they are passionate about succeeding and we want to fuel that enthusiasm. I personally know how much time is needed to run a business, the fact that these students give up their weekends and free time to take part should be recognised and rewarded in itself. We’re hoping that this event provides a grounding for these young people to flourish into exceptional yorkshire businessmen and businesswomen; we look forward to welcoming them again at the February trade fair.

If other young people want to get involved in next years LEAP activity, speak to your school or contact Miles directly and he will contact your school on your behalf; miles@leedsenterprise.co.uk

Main photograph: Callum Rankine (left) then aged 16, Yusuf Ahmed, (right) then aged 17 from The Grammar School, Leeds, selling candles and bath products for their company Ambiance.

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