The Big Box Co. to bring its retail concept to the UK
Created in Durban by chief executive Murray Clarke, The Big Box Co. differs from the traditional shopping centre model in that it operates modular small format stores run by entrepreneurs who receive funding, education and mentoring through The Big Box Co.’s non-profit Lightbox Project. The first site, launched in Kwa Mashu near Durban in 2016, was created from upcycled shipping containers and is now home to 28 businesses including hair salons, clothing boutiques and cafes as well as an on-site training centre.
In the UK, The Big Box Co. has instructed Savills to find 60,000 to 100,000 square foot freehold or long leasehold opportunities in major cities, including brownfield land and historic buildings with potential for regeneration. Also considering joint venture opportunities, the company aims to have a brand presence in the world’s top 50 innovative cities by 2025, with an initial focus on the UK, US and Asian markets.
Clarke said: “We want to create a global ecosystem that helps entrepreneurs build sustainable businesses and in doing so generate social impact in their local communities. Each Big Box site is unique to the area it serves, but what they have in common is a creative spirit that fosters interaction between our ‘Boxpreneurs’ and the people who choose to shop and spend leisure time there.”
Sean Gillies, head of UK retail at Savills, added: “The face of retail is changing. It is clear that people of all ages, and perhaps millennials in particular, are drawn to experiences and a sense of connection. Our focus now is on working with national anchors and strategic partners to ensure meticulous site selection, cutting edge design and a carefully curated tenant mix appropriate to each local area.”
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