Handcrafted goods show I’ve got the Norwich Retail Factor

A Norwich man who sells hand-made goods imported from India has won The Mall Norwich Retail Factor competition.

Manan Kotak's business Kutch Craft impressed the judges with his overall trading figures, the presentation of his goods and his focus on handcrafted Indian items.

Winning the competition means he will now receive two months' free trading in The Mall Norwich, as well as business training and a new laptop.

Kutch Craft sources all of its stock from Mr Kotak's hometown of Bhuj, in the Kutch district of the Gujarat state. The products are made by local people and include Kutchi shawls, women's purses, handbags, cushion covers, wall hangings and other accessories.

Mr Kotak was crowned the winner after completing two weeks' free trading in The Mall Norwich during the semi-finals of the competition.

The 33-year-old from Magdalen Road, Norwich, believes taking part in the competition has already given him the marketing and communication strategies he needs to build a successful business in the future. He said: 'I had such a great response from everyone during my 15 days and I am delighted to have won.

'The region I come from is very small and has not got much recognition for its craft and products. I want to promote it as much as possible and give them a better livelihood.

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'My dream is to one day sell their goods to a global market. Taking part in the competition has helped me combine my business skills my development skills in order to help the company move forward.' The Mall Norwich, in partnership with the Evening News, launched The Retail Factor to give start-up businesses the chance to win two months' free trading at The Mall.

The competition is worth more than �10,000, with each business chosen by the judges receiving a stall in a prime position on the shopping floor.

The entries were judged by a panel which included Alan Day, general manager for The Mall Norwich, Elaine Maslin, acting business editor for the Norwich Evening News and Chris Featherby, store manager of Argos in The Mall.

Miss Maslin said that Mr Kotak's commitment to fair trade and the potential to grow in the future helped make him the winner. Meanwhile, Mr Day said: 'I am confident that in Kutch Craft we have unearthed Norfolk and North Suffolk's retailer of tomorrow.'

Are you a talented entrepreneur starting up a business? Contact reporter Ben Woods on 01603 772 439 or email ben.woods@archant.co.uk