Start-up online traders will have the chance to ‘showroom’ their own high street presence through a flagship pop-up shop to be opened on London’s King’s Road.
PopUp Britain, the retail arm of enterprise campaign StartUp Britain, will open the store on May 9, offering two-week slots to start-up and micro businesses over the course of the next year to test drive their own retail premises. The move is part of an initiative to match online retail start-ups with empty high street shops.
StartUp Britain co-founder Emma Jones said: “Most online retail start-ups are beginning to realise that in order to build a solid brand that will stand the test of time, they need to be offline in bricks and mortar as well as creating a good online presence.
“Around 60 per cent of new businesses are now started at home, often by one person. They need to meet their customers, find out what people think about their products face-to-face and work with fellow entrepreneurs to get a physical feel for the retail landscape. They need to effectively ‘showroom’ their own online brand in order to take it to the next level.
“Our shop in King’s Road is designed to give start-ups from around the country a low cost opportunity to test their products in an area that has famously played a key role in supporting independent British brands for decades.”
The former electronics showroom on the King’s Road, which has been empty for three months, has the capacity to house 12 start-ups at a time, each helping to cover costs by paying £200 for two weeks.
Jones added: “As more big brands exit the high street, it’s becoming clear that they are not going to come back. We want to use these empty shops to give local businesses a boost, as well as offering the British shopper a new experience and a chance to support the British economy.”
Mark Little, UK managing director of PopUp Britain sponsor Intuit, said: “PopUp Britain has clearly found a model for regenerating the high street that benefits landlords, retailers and customers alike and it is great to see the project going from strength to strength. We’re proud to have been supporting pop-up retailers from the start of the project by providing a low cost way for them to take card payments.”
The scheme has won the backing of retail expert George Davies, the man behind the success of Next and George at Asda.
He said: “We all know the High Street is struggling, from the competition of out of town and online shopping, with record numbers of empty shops. The PopUp Britain concept is an excellent project, not only in getting rid of the unsightly hoardings, but most importantly giving an opportunity to small entrepreneurial businesses to experience working on the high street. In the past these small businesses would have been precluded by the onerous terms of the landlord and tenants act.”
The idea has previously been piloted in Richmond, Surrey, where a former estate agent shop hosted more than 60 start-ups in five months. Some 91% said the move was good for business.
People interested in becoming part of the shop, should apply at www.popupbritain.com/apply