UK campaign to turn empty Jessops and HMV stores into pop ups for start-ups

Three 'pop up' campaigns are urging administrators to allow them to turn empty Jessops and HMV stores across the UK into pop-up shops for small businesses. Tempoarary shop finder service We Are Pop Up, the information service for unused shop space the Empty Shops Network, and national enterprise campaign StartUp Britain, have teamed up to form PopUp Forum.

PopUp Britain Richmond storeThey have approached the administrators of HMV and Jessops with a plan for a number of the newly closed shops to business start-ups with temporary shopfronts. 

Emma Jones from StartUp Britain said: “We’re working with the administrators’ lawyers to contact landlords and find out if we can take control of a percentage of the newly-closed shops with a view to offering affordable retail spaces to small and start-up retail businesses, on a rolling basis."

“Last year may have been a bad year for big retailers, but it was a record year for British start-ups. Our local high streets are in trouble – and yet what small retail business wouldn’t give their right arm for the chance to trade in their own communities, generating sales and awareness of their brand?” she said.

PopUp Forum is hoping to follow StartUp Britain’s temporary shop scheme, PopUp Britain, which is currently being showcased at the Department of Communities and Local Government. Under the scheme small businesses and start-ups are co-funded and co-work in a retail space for two weeks at a time. A specific pop-up lease has been developed to cover legal issues. It has funding and hand-held payment devices from small business accounting firm Intuit, legal help from SNR Denton and visual merchandising expertise from John Lewis.

PopUp Britain in Moreton on the MarshA successful pilot in Richmond, Surrey, saw more than 60 businesses take up a space in five months, with four in five saying the experience had been good for their business and more than 20 per cent reporting an increase in online sales after the experience.

Nick Russell from We Are Pop Up said, “The job of administration is a long and arduous process that can take years. What we’ve asked for is the chance to throw open boarded-up shops for an agreed time to small businesses and give consumers the chance to support British enterprise.”

According to latest stats from the British Retail Consortium (BRC), 11.3 per cent of shops in the UK are now empty. A recent BRC poll of MPs revealed that two-thirds believe high streets in their constituencies have deteriorated noticeably over the last five years.