Smiths News is offering interest- free loans to independent retailers to help them refurbish their stores.

The loans, of up to £10,000, allow retailers to buy the latest equipment, including display racking and refrigeration, from suppliers recommended by the newspaper and magazine distributor.

The news will come as a welcome boost to indies, especially those who have been affected by the Carbon Trust’s decision earlier this year to replace its interest-free loans with loans charging up to 10% interest.

“The long-term benefits of installing the latest environmentally friendly and cheap-to-run refrigeration systems in their stores is that it’s an investment that will pay dividends,” said Smiths News field sales controller Nick Scraggs.

“As well as giving their stores a brand new look, it will cut their carbon footprints and energy bills.”

Carol Birnie, owner of Ashley Stores in New Milton, has already taken up the offer.

“The quality of work and communication throughout was fantastic, and the feedback from our customers has been good,” she said.