A Midlands-based entrepreneur has launched a drive to save our High Streets by helping thousands of shops, pubs, restaurants, takeaways and other small businesses survive the impact of the latest lockdown.

Darren Nelson has unveiled an innovative new company that will design and deliver 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.

And the Staffordshire-based angel investor has vowed to cover all the subscription costs for the duration of the lockdown.

Darren, who recently sold highway maintenance business Carnell Support Services after leading its growth for 30 years, has joined forces with businessmen Russ James and Andi Elliott to launch Ourlocal.uk.

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.

“Another lockdown is the last thing our local High Streets need and 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, we have 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.”

Russ said: ““As we saw during the first lockdown, customers have a real desire to buy from their local shops but the difficulty is that most do not have an option to order online. That’s what inspired me to create Ourlocal.uk. With Ourlocal.uk, there is now the opportunity for all retailers to get online almost overnight and start taking orders.

“We are now urging businesses to take immediate action as the latest lockdown starts. The future may look bleak for many but having an online presence could help hundreds, if not thousands, of businesses survive.”

Russell’s Butchers, in Penkridge, was one of the first small businesses to try Ourlocal.uk’s online shop service. Owner Lee Russell said: “Our online shop costs just £23 a week. It’s been live for two months and our average daily order is £35. Our online orders are increasing every week and we have also attracted new customers.”