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The world's first 'pop-up mall' opens in London's east end

posted 17 Feb 2012, 09:01 by Mpelembe   [ updated 17 Feb 2012, 09:02 ]

A new 'pop-up mall' concept called BoxPark has turned a once scruffy stretch of east London into an eye-catching retail complex, composed of shipping containers.

SHOREDITCH, LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (FEBRUARY 14, 2012) (REUTERS - Pop-up shops have been a global trend over the past few years but the world's first pop-up mall, BoxPark, has opened up in the heart of London's fashionable east end, where retail meets shipping container…literally.

The shopping complex consists of 60 retail units and sits on 4.7 hectares of a former railway and goodsyard. It is now home to more than sixty carefully chosen fashion brands and restaurants.

Sophie Powell is the manager of the fittingly named fashion store Irregular Choice.

"BoxPark literally popped up in a week and so people have been a bit confused as to whether it's been here all the time and never noticed it so they're very excited about it. It's also nice for office workers to pop down on their lunch break," said Powell.

"I don't know of anyone who works in a container apart from myself." she added.

Britain's high streets have been hit hard by the economic downturn with many shops closing down. BoxPark's founder Roger Wade says this complex offers flexibility that is rare in bricks and mortar stores.

"It's really tough to get good space in the high street because simply landlords want you to sign up for ten years. With BoxPark we never look at anyone's financial contribution, we never look at a balance sheet, we just look at the strength of the brand and if it's the right brand we ask them to join us. If they want to sign up for one year that's great and if they want to sign up for three years or five years that's even better," he said. "The brands that we have at BoxPark are special, they don't want to be seen next to high street retailers and BoxPark gives them an environment in which they can standout," he added.

Norwegian firm OnePiece chose BoxPark to open their first stand-alone store in the UK. Their all-in-one jumpsuits - nicknamed the onesie - were a Christmas best seller. Sales assistant Edward Williamson said BoxPark has been a huge success for them so far.

"It's been received really really well actually, people who've never seen it come in and buy them just through impluse. We always say if somebody comes in and they try it, they buy it."

Pieminister already had six restaurants in the UK. They recently opened their seventh here. The company's London manager, David Toole said the mall is in a great location. "We're very close to the Olympics, Stratford is just down the road so that's why we're here really. We're hoping to capitalise on that and get some good summer trade from that."

The appeal of pop-up retail is that it's here today and gone tomorrow. This mall will be here for five years and there are others planned for London and Amsterdam. This is outside the box thinking that may just prove to have staying power.