“It’s all about the theatre, a culture in your own space,” says Annelie Gullström, Head of Business Development at AMF Fastigheter, which launched its own innovative place-making idea in April last year. The Lobby, part of the developer’s flagship mall in Stockholm, is all about giving brands a space to show off, to trial new concepts, and to reach new customers by offering them something different from the usual retail centre. It even has a cava bar. “It’s a mix of small and large retailers who want to engage with customers and test their brands out in a market,” says Gullström. “You can sell things in the Lobby but the main thing is to activate and engage with consumers.”
The Lobby is in fact a collaborative project between AMF Fastigheter and Ilona Taillade, Partner at Real Estate Partners (REP) and founder of another new arrival last year, pop-up concept store FOMO. Based at the Molndal Galleria mall in Gothenburg, FOMO is another case study worth watching for anyone looking to invigorate their retail space. Why? Because, Taillade says, it has been designed with the future of malls in mind. She says: “There are lots of companies looking to create innovative products and techniques. Sweden has become a leader in terms of aspirational brands looking to do something different. We’ve been able to take the opportunity to create this type of space. We are looking to change the formats; how to add to or change the business model. It’s about flexible retail.”
Reflecting these trends, in February UK shoping centre body Revo launched a scheme to find a new generation of talent to breathe new life into shopping centres. Hatch, by Revo, is a competition that offers free space and expert marketing advice in to up-and-coming businesses.
Entrants will come before judges in May and Hatch is backed by major names in retail property, including Landsec, Hammerson, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, M&G Real Estate, Harcourt and Ellandi, along with the British Independent Retailers Association (Bira). Revo estimates that the UK pop-up retail market is worth at least £2.3 billion.
Revo Head of Campaigns Samantha Sen, says: “We believe that the retail success stories of tomorrow will come from today’s pop-up shops, kiosks, and etailers as dozens of brands and chains we now know and love have proven. However, Hatch is about more than just identifying the next wave of entrepreneurs and talent who will shape – it is a demonstration of the industry’s commitment to invest in the communities we are embedded in.” Revo says that winners of Hatch will benefit from free rent, with business rates and service charges covered too. They will also receive professional marketing and business support to help promote their concept and a free one-year Bira membership. Current locations where Hatch will take place include Westfield Stratford City, St David’s Dewi Sant in Cardiff, Silverburn in Glasgow, intu Derby, Parkway Shopping Centre in Ireland and Bloomfield in Northern Ireland.