The Duke boosts Britain’s PopUp pioneers

Emma-Jones-in-a-green-shirtA meeting with The Duke in Sheffield led to a retail breakthrough on Picadilly for Emma Jones, Co-founder of StartUp Britain.

The Duke has given his support to PopUp Britain, a campaign to give over empty high street space to the use of entrepreneurs trading in PopUp shops – which has this week opened its latest store on the Crown Estate on Piccadilly.

As many of 14% of the UK’s high street shops are currently sitting vacant, yet there are thousands of online businesses across the country desperate for a high street presence.

With PopUp Britain, a campaign from StartUp Britain, which I co-founded, we are trying to join the dots and get a new generation of great British brands to the high street audience they deserve.

The Duke of York has been instrumental in an exciting new development for PopUp Britain, which saw us launch our latest shop on the Crown Estate in Piccadilly, one of the busiest shopping districts in the world.

A flagship store for three weeks, PopUp Piccadilly is offering some outstanding British entrepreneurs the chance to sell their wares and quite literally put the UK start-up scene on the map.

The store is located at 213 Piccadilly and is our most high profile shop to date. It houses 10 brands, including Yolke Studio, Shortbread House, Morrow’s Outfitters, Dashing Tweeds and Bone and Rag, who are all benefiting from being in the media spotlight and on a street with footfall that never seems to slow.

Elizabeth Carrick, founder of Blonde + Ginger said at the opening event on Monday 12th August: ‘I started the business in April. The opportunity to PopUp in Piccadilly 4 months later is the opportunity of a lifetime!’ and on opening night, representatives from the British Library discovered Eleanor Stuart whose designs are inspired by Alice in Wonderland and a potential partnership is now underway.

Such a prominent high street presence would never have been possible without the intervention of The Duke, who I encountered courtesy of the E20, a forum for devising entrepreneurial solutions to the UK’s economic and social problems.

Led by my fellow StartUp Britain co-founder Michael Hayman, the E20 is a vital new initiative that is harnessing the innovation, ambition and determination of some of the nation’s leading entrepreneurs to come up with real, actionable solutions to pressing issues such as youth unemployment.

The Duke introduced PopUp Britain to the Crown Estate, who visited our King’s Road shop, and suggested we bring the concept to Piccadilly. Our model is to take on an empty shop, and bring in small businesses who crowdfund their rent, and offer a vibrant new face to Britain’s high streets.

So far we have helped over 300 entrepreneurs onto the high street, and 15% of them now say they are looking for a full-time shop, having proved that a physical presence can work for their business. Since opening our first shop in Richmond, we have brought PopUp Britain to the King’s Road, Poulton-le-Fylde, Victoria, Somerset House and Moreton-in-Marsh, amongst others.

In this time, tenants have made sales, met customers face to face and tested new markets. Trading alongside fellow small business owners has led to joint ventures, commercial partnerships and deals with large retailers who come in to see the small business in action.

The PopUp Britain team was delighted to welcome The Duke to PopUp Piccadilly on Wednesday 4th September to meet project sponsors and the small business tenants.

We are immensely grateful to The Duke for his generous support in putting PopUp Britain on its biggest stage yet, and backing Britian’s small businesses as they look to take the high street by storm.

Emma Jones, Co-founder of StartUp Britain

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