A LANCASHIRE-based family business is aiming to support firms with the launch of a new card payment system specifically aimed at encouraging people to shop at independent local outlets.

The Independent Lancashire Card, which launched on July 4, will provide 10% discounts for shoppers who use it to buy items from participating companies.

These independent companies range from coffee shops and restaurants to wedding suppliers, hotels and many more across the county.

Dan Williams, who founded Independent Lancashire alongside wife Kate, said: “We launched online and on social media in the middle of last year as a way of promoting independent businesses around Lancashire and then found our follower count grew really quickly.

“So then we thought we have to give people an incentive to visit the website and shopping locally, so that's when we came up with the idea of the card.”

The Independent Lancashire Card will aim to encourage people to eat, drink and shop local and move away from the chain stores, as well as helping customers discover and explore all Lancashire has to offer, showcasing independent local firms.

In return for providing the 10% discount to shoppers equipped with the card, firms can expect to see more customers through their doors and will be promoted by Independent Lancashire’s extensive social media presence.

Mr Williams said: “There are so many great cafes, shops and restaurants on our doorstep, which makes our county interesting and vibrant.

“Supporting independents also supports the local economy, as business owners will in turn spend in other local establishments.

“You’re supporting people who care about delivering a great service and their skills.”

Independent Lancashire has been working to promote local businesses since the middle of last year, utilising social media to showcase some of Lancashire’s best-loved companies.

Already the business has 5,000 followers on Instagram and has seen its #independentlancashire used over 11,000 times across different platforms.

The coronavirus crisis has only heightened the need to support shopping outlets which have seen profits devastated by the lockdown situation, a particularly acute situation for independents without large cash reserves or wealthy backers.

Many outlets have already been forced to close, with many more deeply fearful about what the future may hold.

Independent Lancashire hopes that this scheme will then provide a vital lifeline to businesses in such a situation.

Mr Williams said: “We’re all about supporting independent business so there’s no cost involved in signing up – its very much centred around doing what we can to support people.”

He added: “Independents can literally be in a hand-to-mouth situation so it’s actually about their livelihoods.”

Participating companies in Blackburn with Darwen include Sugar Stealers florist in Witton, Holders and Co ice cream shop in Edgworth and the Three B’s Beer Shop in Darwen.

Participating firms in Burnley include Ciao Mobile Pizzeria, 3rd Space Gaming and Laura Baldwin Yoga.

Other independent participants can be found in Hyndburn, Rossendale and the Ribble Valley as well as further afield in Preston and West Lancashire.

In all, over 150 businesses are involved in the scheme, which is still accepting new participants.

All are independent of larger chains, and all are run and offer something different from the normal shopping experience.

To find out more, visit: https://www.independentlancashire.com/.