Entrepreneur Darren Nelson has issued an SOS – Save Our Shops – urging thousands of small businesses to begin trading online to help them survive lockdown.

With business partners Russ James and Andi Elliott, he has launched a drive to save our High Streets by helping thousands of shops, pubs, restaurants, takeaways and others get through lockdown and capitalise on the Christmas shopping rush.

The launch of Ourlocal.uk means businesses, not allowed to open under lockdown legislation, can get e-commerce websites within as little as 24 hours, ready to take online orders from customers and arrange deliveries.

And Darren is putting his money where his mouth is. He will personally cover the cost of subscriptions during lockdown. No money is paid up front to produce the websites, helping cashflow.

Ourlocal.uk is an innovative new company that designs and delivers e-commerce websites for small businesses – covering the cost of set-up – so they can take online orders from customers and arrange deliveries and collections.

Darren said: “I’m sending out an SOS to Save Our Shops. I’m calling on anyone that cares about the future of our High Streets and local shops to spread the word before it’s too late. Getting online could be the single best decision these businesses make. It could be the difference between survival and bankruptcy.

“Now, more than ever, we must support shops, pubs, restaurants and other small firms if we want them to survive. Tens of thousands of jobs are at stake,” said Darren.

Driven by the desire to make a difference, together with Russ and Andi, he has developed Ourlocal.uk with a mission to provide low-cost, e-commerce websites to enable shops to get selling online.

“I’m happy to put my money where my mouth is and offer retailers and small business owners an opportunity to become e-retailers overnight. They will pay nothing at all until we are out of lockdown. We’re taking all the risk away so that they can focus on generating income.”

Darren recently sold highway maintenance business Carnell Support Services after leading its growth for 30 years. As majority shareholder, he has invested heavily in the new business and believes it has the potential to help businesses across the UK make it through the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic crisis it has caused.

Duncan Sandy, of The Soup Kitchen café in Stafford, said he was eager to get online to provide a takeaway service to help save his cafe, which has operated from the same site for 120 years.

“Darren managed to get us online in just a day which has been amazing and the great thing about ordering online is customers can pre-order and choose a time slot to collect. There is no minimum order and they know their freshly baked scones, for example, will be waiting for them when they arrive.

“With the current situation we have had to adapt to stay in business. It’s been a big change this year but I can’t believe how supportive our customers have been.”