Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
3:14 PM 1st February 2022

Bradford’s Indie Businesses Boom Despite Pandemic

VR City,
VR City,
Bradford has been revealed as one of the UK’s strongest economies and a city in which independent businesses can thrive.

An index to help entrepreneurs work out where to set up shop has been created using nine different business metrics to analyse the top UK cities for budding business owners. Named in the top 20 cities, the data shows that Bradford has an impressive 603 active businesses per 10,000 population.¹

Leanne Holmes, Bradford BID project officer said: “It’s incredible to see our district continue to sparkle despite the challenges faced in the last two years. The partners of Sparkling Bradford are keen to support independent businesses during these difficult times and we’re urging businesses across the district to sign up to the Sparkling Bradford initiative, where they’ll receive support as well as a business toolkit to aid marketing activity.

“It's great to see that local tourism is flourishing in Bradford and supporting the growth of small businesses. Clearly, residents are looking to their doorsteps for entertainment and attractions this year, which is no surprise as the city is absolutely brimming with hidden gem attractions just waiting to be discovered.”

VR City, a small independent business based in Bradford and the biggest virtual reality venue in Yorkshire, has experienced unprecedented growth since opening during the pandemic. In October 2021 the state of the art attraction opened for business, offering visitors of all ages a catalogue of gaming technologies, including 5D racing simulations, shoot ‘em ups, sci-fi adventures and dance competitions.

Footfall has continued to rise at VR City since opening last year and as a result, the business has plans to install further new technologies at its venue in Bradford.

Hasan Khan
Hasan Khan
Owner of VR City, Hasan Khan said: “We planned to open in March 2020 when lockdown first hit and unfortunately had to delay by almost two years. When we were finally able to open the level of support from local people was amazing and it has been so rewarding to see people of all ages, backgrounds and personalities enjoying and immersing themselves in our gaming experiences.

“We were inspired to open VR City after visiting Japan a few years ago, when we recognised that the popularity of high tech arcades was growing - we felt Bradford was the perfect place for us to thrive as a virtual reality business.”

The Bradford district is a treasure trove of independent businesses that are thriving despite the pandemic. Several of which offer interesting days out, right on the doorstep. Tucked away on Hustlergate in Bradford is Time Trapped, a live action escape room where teams of friends, family and colleagues can band together to discover clues, solve puzzles and accomplish tasks in order to break free of themed rooms.

The People Powered Press, based in Salts Works in Saltaire, is the largest letterpress printing press in the world and works in collaboration with designers and artists to provide workshops which allow people to print their own giant works using a large scale letterpress.

Another hidden gem attraction in Ilkley is Hartleys Auctioneers, specialising in beautiful antiques, interiors and art; where visitors can attend a weekly auction at Victoria Hall for a unique shopping experience.

Clip ‘n Climb, also in Ilkley, tests agility and courage in a safe and secure environment, where adults and kids can enjoy healthy, action-packed fun, with 21 individual and multi-climber challenges of varying designs and difficulties.

Local tourists that are looking for something more low key than white knuckle thrills, can visit Cobbles and Clay at the top of the main street in Haworth, which is the perfect setting for a relaxing catch-up with friends in a beautiful pottery painting studio offering fresh, healthy, vegan and gluten free dishes and great coffee.