Will flexible spaces offer direct-to-consumer brands a chance to revitalise the high street?

photographer capturing queue for shop in oxford street

Up and down the UK our once-bustling high streets are becoming overrun with unused retail space. A combination of the pandemic lockdowns and the convenience of direct-to-consumer (DTC) shopping has created a situation where many retailers simply can’t commit to long leases and expensive rents on the high street, with labour shortages and supply chain issues meaning some businesses are struggling to survive in the traditional retail space.

However, as lockdown restrictions eased and people returned to meeting in person, the lack of physical retail outlets has created a hole in our communities. With many high streets now functioning as community hubs and consumers yearning for in-person experiences, could the advent of shared flexible retail spaces create a revitalised high street built around brands that were once DTC only?

To discuss the changing face of DTC we’re joined by John Hoyle, founder and CEO of Sook, winner of this year’s Retail Gazette Awards Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) Game Changer Award and Ian Moore, head of services for DTC experts Excellent Zephyr. We’ll find out how the DTC world is changing, how flexible digitally fitted-out spaces that can be hired by the hour could save the high street, and what the future holds for the UK’s hybrid retail ecosystem.

About Sook

Sook is on a mission to revolutionise the high street. Founded by John Hoyle in 2019 from an empty restaurant in Cambridge, Sook now offers flexible, sustainable, digitally-enabled ‘pop-up’ space to any brand, business or community who needs it – whenever they need it – in prime retail locations.

Sook transforms empty shops into adaptive, ‘pop-up’ spaces, which are rentable by the hour. It does this by installing a modular digital fit-out, which occupiers can design and curate online. The Sook model removes the inefficiencies and cost of a traditional fit-out and allows multiple occupiers to use the space throughout the day.

About Excellent Zephyr

Excellent Zephyr’s core mission is simple: to deliver the best solutions and services that transform, innovate and grow retail businesses.

The Excellent Zephyr approach is built upon years of experience and countless projects within the NetSuite and Retail sector, so the team understands retailer challenges, needs and ambitions.

About Retail Inside Out

Retail Inside Out is a new podcast series from Retail Gazette. Each episode will focus on the topics, trends, news and personalities that are changing the face of retail. Subscribe on Apple, Spotify or your preferred podcast platform to hear every episode as soon as it goes live.

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Got an idea that can change the world?

Sook is the digitally connected pop-up space provider that lets you experiment with physical retail and connect with your customers in a whole new way. Click below to book now.