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Evaluation of the Inverclyde Business Store


Inverclyde Business Store (the Store) was a one-stop shop for businesses in Inverclyde. It was set up with eleven original objectives. These were to encourage: better access to business support; inclusiveness; enterprising attitudes; start-ups and growth; community based businesses; awareness of organisational issues; quantifiable outputs; improvement upon performance delivery; a quality service; and co-operation; as well as to address the fragmentation issue. The evaluation aimed to: provide evidence of the added value benefits of offering services through an integrated one-stop shop approach to support local businesses; and develop recommendations to guide Inverclyde Council and Scottish Enterprise Renfrewshire (SER) in their decision-making on future format and delivery.


The methodology consisted of: a review and analysis of contextual information and project monitoring data; face-to-face consultations with partners and stakeholders; face-to-face consultations with small business support services staff in three other Local Enterprise companies (Ayrshire, Dunbartonshire and Forth Valley); a postal survey of clients of the Store; and telephone interviews with clients of the Store.


Concludes that at the strategic level, stakeholders view the Store concept as remaining valid and that the Store offers a fuller level of support to clients. Suggests that there are mixed views on whether the Store has resolved overlap and duplication of services. Considers that a large number of clients have little engagement or commitment to the Store. Decides that the Store has shown most progress in improving access, addressing fragmentation, raising awareness of organisational issues and delivering a quality service. Assesses that the Store has shown weakest progress in improving inclusiveness, supporting community based businesses, and encouraging co-operation. The very low survey response seriously limits any estimate of business and economic impact. On the operational level, the management and delivery of support services through the Store suffers from a number of weaknesses and communication between partners operating through the Store is also an area of weakness.


On the strategic level, the evaluation recommends that the Store should: give continued attention to the aspect of service delivery concerning overlap and duplication; ensure that front-line staff have the time, experience and incentive to perform a triage role in respect to other needs and opportunities; respond to issues concerning follow-up and aftercare; re-assess services being provided and to what kinds of clients; make sure support providers are more discerning in the provision of support, given that a quarter of survey respondents said that 40% of their change in sales had been at the expense of competitors; compare Inverclyde results with levels of additionality being achieved elsewhere; and ensure the benefits of more specialist support is made known and monitored to clients. On the operational level, the evaluation recommends the Store in future: uses a real-time evaluation methodology; sets in place a single, integrated contact data management system; reviews the IT infrastructure; re-introduces a Steerage Group; re-assesses the internal working arrangements in the Store and in particular the formal arrangements for inter-organisational communication; finds more opportunities for interaction; makes a distinction in target setting and monitoring record keeping between basic service users and users who receive substantial assistance; and ensures that all partners have the opportunity to develop targets for the Store, to achieve fuller and more effective integration.

Author SQW Limited
Published Year 2009
Report Type Evaluation
  • Enterprise
    Entrepreneurship/new firm formation, Support to existing/growth businesses