BoxPark to open 20 pop-up food malls in UK and expand overseas

Boxpark-Croydon-570BoxPark founder Roger Wade has revealed plans to open 20 pop-up food and drink malls in the UK over the next five years and to take the concept overseas.

In the UK, Wade said he was close to announcing a site in North London and was also in talks over opening a West London mall. Outside the capital, he is looking at cities including Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Manchester, Nottingham, Leeds and Sheffield.

The expansion will follow the food and drink model BoxPark opened in Croydon, South London, last year, rather than the mix of fashion and lifestyle stores and cafes at the first BoxPark, opened in Shoreditch, E1, in 2011.

The group is targeting areas undergoing regeneration and will promote the malls – constructed using shipping containers – with programmes of events to help drive footfall.

“With the benefit of our first quarter of trading [at Croydon] we now know that this is our formula. We are going to roll out 20 ‘BoxPark Croydons’ throughout the UK over the next five years and probably 10 outside the UK,” said Wade. “We’re already in progressed talks to confirm another site in London and one outside London.”

He added: “We are a ‘meanwhile partner’. Our responsibility is to go into areas earlier and make them sexier.”

Wade would not name sites or partners but said he was keen to work with Stanhope, Schroder and Hammerson again after building relationships with them in Croydon. BoxPark Croydon occupies a site at Stanhope and Schroder’s Ruskin Square, while Hammerson is delivering a retail-led regeneration close by with Westfield.  In Europe, Wade said BoxPark had been offered a development agreement to build out malls in six major cities, with sites in South Africa and Nairobi, Kenya, also being considered with the same partner.

However, the first licensed BoxPark mall overseas is likely to be in Perth, Australia, where a local developer is keen to adopt the concept.

“Over the next 12 months, we’ll be raising development finance – we are in talks with banks, venture capital partners, our development partners,” said Wade. “In some cases development partners can borrow money at a significantly better rate than we can. They can borrow at 1.5%. We’re currently paying 10%.”

BoxPark’s rapid expansion plan also includes a refit at Shoreditch, with the top deck and main performance area to be improved for the summer. The upper floor will become the street food focus of the venue.