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N Brown, the UK retailer group behind brands like JD Williams and Simply Be, has launched a new startup partnership programme, dubbed JDWorks.

The Manchester-based group has partnered with investment firm L Marks to seek out eight startups to help improve its online sales channels, from enhancing the customer experience to leveraging data for optimum results.

Applications are now open until July 30. The eight startups that make the cut will take part in the 10-week programme. They’ll receive free office space, access to expert mentors to guide their products’ development and an opportunity to pitch for investment from N Brown.

The first pitch day will take place on September 7 and the JDWorks programme will run from September 26 to December 12.

Startups that apply for JDWorks will be expected to bring forward ideas in the following areas for N Brown:

N Brown is also opening up a “Wild Card” category for left-field ideas that don’t fit into the above but could be game-changers.

As retailers get more and more digital, companies like N Brown with its 140-year history need to seek out the best innovations to stay ahead and improve the buying experience for the customer, according to Angela Spindler, CEO of N Brown.

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“Digital development is a massive focus for us and partnering with L Marks will allow us access to some of the most innovative ideas from start-ups, which by their nature, are very agile,” she said. “They can react extremely quickly to the opportunities presented by our ever changing retail and technology landscape.”

N Brown’s markets spread across several demographics from young to old and startups need to bring ideas that appeal to a wide array of shoppers.

“N Brown’s customer base spans from 25-year-olds to 90-year-olds and applicants will need to take this into consideration, so it will be interesting to see the ideas that are developed,” commented Stuart Marks, CEO and founder of L Marks.

Click here for applications. The closing date is midnight July 30.