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Expansion ambitions stack up for Boxpark

Pop-up mall plans UK and European openings following Shoreditch debut

Boxpark, the pop-up mall concept opening this weekend in Shoreditch, is set for UK and European expansion.

The company has plans for a second London site, two regional UK sites and a European location by the end of 2013.

Boxpark founder and chief executive of consultancy Brands Incorporated Roger Wade is planning a second Boxpark in the capital – twice the size of the Shoreditch mall – as soon as the end of next year. He is weighing up six London sites, while regionally he is exploring locations in Manchester and Birmingham for opening at the end of 2013.

Last month, Boxpark signed an agreement with property firm Corio to be its European retail investor and franchise partner, taking the first step in European expansion. Amsterdam is looking a likely site to open at the end of next year.

While traditional retailing is about sales per square foot, Boxpark, which houses stores in repurposed sea containers, is about entertainment and showcasing, according to Wade. Many brands see the development as a retail test bed and a marketing tool, rather than a sales driver.

Wade said: “I’m confident Boxpark is going to be a success. It’s fully let. It’s a world first, which goes to show there’s always room for innovation. The problem with the high street is that retail success always equates to sales per square foot, or like-for-likes. Successful retailing is about entertainment. If you do that then customers will come back and hopefully buy.”

Boxpark Shoreditch, for which property agent Briant Champion Long acted, opens tomorrow after a delay of more than three months due to building work. It comprises 60 ‘boxshops’ at about 300 sq ft each, housing 32 fashion brands, including Boxfresh, One True Saxon and Gola.

For many, including Perry Ellis-owned Farah Vintage, which has 152 doors in the UK, it marks their first venture into retail. For its Perry Ellis stablemate Original Penguin, Boxpark is its third UK store.

Perry Ellis managing director Francisco Hoffman said opening a shop at Boxpark was a “good opportunity” to test the retail market for Farah Vintage.

“It’s a cool concept and the idea was really appealing. We have launched it as a marketing exercise. It’s too new a concept [to work out target sales] but of course we’ll want an uptake [in sales],” he said.

Tony Evans, managing director of Jacobson Group, owner of footwear brand Gola, said: “We chose to open there because of the location, the concept and brand mix. The Olympics will be sure to give it a boost.”

Brands said they were unsure  how Boxpark would generate sales for their wider business. Evans added: “We’ve got nothing to judge it against but it will help with brand presence and give us an opportunity to offer limited editions.”

According to Daniel Morris, managing director of young fashion brand Boxfresh, Boxpark reflects its brand values. “It makes strategic sense. The location is great and it’s got a good eclectic mix of brands.”

The Boxpark concept offers brands a cheap entry to retail at a time when overheads on traditional sites make this otherwise very difficult.

Indie views on Boxpark

  • “It would be good for independent boutiques to see how these brands do, so that they don’t have to take the risk themselves. If a brand is popular then it’s not as big a risk for a shop like mine to stock it.”

Nicola Scott, owner of contemporary womenswear indie Bunty & Co in Pocklington, East Yorkshire

  • “For the indies stocking those brands [in Boxpark] it could be an issue. I can imagine if I was stocking them it wouldn’t be such a good thing because you want to be a destination for a brand.”

Hannah McHalick, owner of kidswear indie Oh Baby in Shoreditch, east London

  • “Boxpark essentially [allows people to shop for lots of brands under one roof] so it would definitely be competition for us if it was nearer.”

Ravi Grewal, owner of young fashion indie Stuarts London in Shepherd’s Bush, west London

Unpacked for business: the first Boxpark opens this weekend

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