Bristol based Parsons Bakery has revealed that their temporary site in Bedminster, which opened on 15th December, has been trading at a profit and the company now wants to continue operating the shop.
Parsons Bakery is a family-run chain of 34 retail stores. They were originally approached by Community Regeneration Group Way Out West to open the pop up.
Nick Parsons, Managing Director at Parsons Bakery, said: “The Group surveyed the surrounding residents to see which stores they valued the most and would like to see reopen on their high street, and a local bakery came in at the top of their list. So the Community Group asked any local landlords who had empty properties if they would be interested in letting for a pop-up shop.” He added that his company could not justify spending its normal new store refurbishment costs of £70,000, but set a £5,000 budget to transform the 250 sq ft shop.
Parsons explained: “The store has a limited product range which features all of the normal bakery classics…but has just a few options in each category so we can offer all our ‘best sellers’ and also minimise any waste. We were clear and honest from the outset that this pop up had to generate a profit and was not a charity cause. We have been delighted with the results. The store trades profitably and above our initial expectations, and we are exploring all options for continuing at the site after the three month period runs out. The local residents love having a baker back on their street and have been very supportive – at the end of the day if they use it, it will stay trading.”
We hear a lot about support for startup companies wanting to trade from a pop up store. This is a great reminder that established businesses can benefit from the pop up model and play a really important part in regenerating our high streets in doing so.
Selkirk is the latest town to utilise the pop up shop to aid the regeneration of their high street. The Chamber of Trade plans to create four pop up shops in Market Place and High Street that are available to let for a day, week or a month at a time.
“The Chamber of Trade realised the town needed a lift and a freshness,” explained Stuart Davidson, an Architectural Technologist whose practice is in the town. “We’ve got a few empty shops, and we saw pop-up shops working in Stirling and East Kilbride, and thought: why not here? Pop-up shops are there for anyone to use for half a day, up to a week,” he added. “It gives businesses flexibility, by not having to fix themselves to premises or a long-term lease.”
An application for funding has been submitted for 75% of the £20,000 required to refurbish the shops and to employ a part time administrator and the group is hoping to to secure the rest of the funding from other funding bodies such as Awards for All and the Selkirk Common Good Fund. Should the funding be received they are hoping to open the first pop up shop in Spring 2013.
We Are Your Emporium in Micklegate was set up by a collective of social enterprises and not-for-profit organisations to create opportunities for people with learning difficulties.
The gift shop and gallery has been trading as a pop up shop since April but feared they would have to close before the Christmas rush due to a large rates bill. Thankfully the City of York Council has thrown them a lifeline and waived the rates bill to enable the shop to stay open to sell gifts during the run up to Christmas.
Angela Taylor, the Manager, said: “It means there’s a little longer for people to be able to gain valuable work experience and earn extra income for the groups. We really wanted to get the Christmas period because of the fact that people are out on the high street buying gifts and they’re the sort of people the shop is targeted towards.”
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Following the Government’s response to the Portas Review of the country’s ailing High Streets, Local Government Minister Grant Shapps has put some money behind Mary Portas’ ideas.
The funding package includes a £10 million High Street Innovation Fund. Kick started by tax-payers’ money, the Government hopes that councils and landlords will boost the fund so the scheme could see £30 million being made available to help small and start-up businesses bring vacant high street shops back into use. The fund has been allocated to 100 local authorities blighted by empty shops, each of whom will receive £100,000.
Martin Blackwell, Chief Executive at the Association of Town Centre Managers, commented:
“We recognise that £100,000, while useful, is not a panacea. It is vital that local authorities spend it wisely, learning from what has been achieved already. Additionally, we want all locations across the UK, beneficiaries or not, to benefit from the knowledge gained as new ideas are piloted.”
Pop up shops are likely to play a starring role in the implementation of the fund by local authorities.
The Government is encouraging local authorities to use new ways of getting empty properties occupied, including offering business rate discounts – which councils are now able to do following a change in the law. Councils are also being asked to use their planning powers – including ‘meanwhile uses’ – to help revitalise the high street.
A new report from the Local Data Company predicts a rise in the number of empty shops on the UK’s high streets this year. Weak consumer confidence, growing online sales and rising unemployment are all contributing factors.
The report says that vacancy figures remained stable at 14.3% in 2011, although there were significant regional differences. Stockport had the highest vacancy rate of large centres with over 30%, with St Albans enjoying the lowest with 8.2%.
The report blames changing consumer habits – particularly online shopping – as the primary cause of the decline of high street shops.
“Technology is driving consumer behaviour to a world of engagement, entertainment and the ability to shop where, how and when we like,” said Matthew Hopkinson, director of the Local Data Company. ”Town centres need to adapt to this changing environment if they are to survive and thrive”.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) described vacancy rates as “worryingly high” in many parts of the country and called on the government to reduce business rates, which are set to rise by 5.6% in April.
“The scale of retail failures since Christmas and number of shops standing empty show the effects of high costs and weak demand on retail businesses and the people and places that rely on them,” said Stephen Robertson, the BRC’s director general.
A new report published by the Local Data Company, which describes how the number of empty shops on the UK’s high streets rose to an all time high in 2010, paints a gloomy picture for the year ahead. Town centre vacancy rates increased from 12% at the end of 2009 to 14.5% at the end of 2010, according to the report, which also reveals an increasing North-South divide. Northern and Midland regions perform badly against the national average with vacancy rates of 16.5%, while vacancies in Southern regions are lower at 12.3%. The report also illustrates a size divide, with larger town and city centres suffering a significantly higher vacancy rate than smaller centres.
The report predicts that together, the VAT increase, public sector spending cuts and the proposed abolition of Empty Rate Relief on all properties except those with a rateable value of less than £2,600 are likely to adversely affect the retail sector in 2011. The report says
“fundamental structural changes are taking place in UK retail, be it at the retail or consumer levels. The very fact than ten years ago the majority of a multiple retailers stores were on a high street, but now we are seeing a migration from the high street into shopping centres and out of town shopping parks, begs the question of what will fill the high street of 2020 and beyond?”
The report provides an interesting background to considering the rise in popularity of the pop up shop and the trend towards shorter and more flexible leases. Liz Pearce, Chief Executive of the British Property Federation, says of the changing face of our high streets:
“The challenge for local authorities is to work with businesses, including retailers and landlords, to sensibly manage this transition and to be creative in looking for new roles and uses for empty shops.”