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Making the high street less scary for retailers

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Sook is using digital fit-outs to make the high street less scary for retailers. We sat down with co-founder John Hoyle to learn more.

How did Sook come about?
I’m a property developer fascinated by proptech and the ways that it can help us use real estate assets in a much better way. The high street is a classic example of a big problem of our own making. The attitudes of landlords and government have remained inflexible in respect to rental levels and rateable values. As a result, in the face of online competition, the vibrancy of the UK’s physical retail ecosystem has been suffocated. I want to play a small part in solving this.

How does Sook work?
Sook is making it far less scary for people to use high street space. Our digital fit outs let anyone brand our spaces exactly as they want at the touch of a button. You only need to pay for the hours that suit you. The most cost effective way of occupying space on the market.

What is the market potential?
There are 50,000 empty shops in the UK today and 14 more are closing each day. Whilst there is certainly more retail space than there is demand for it there are enormous opportunities to address areas where the relationship between retailers and tenants and government is not functioning in a financially viable way.

What makes Sook different from competitors?
There is no-one else in the market renting single unit shop space by the hour. Although successful pop up models exist we are the only company offering a true service offering to retailers and communities. Our digital overlays are unique and our focus is on the squeezed middle of the UK, which is predominantly provincial, as opposed to already vibrant city centre locations of our competitors.

What does success look like for Sook?
We want a presence in every high street in the UK where retailers and other members of the community can benefit from affordable space that they can use specifically at times that work for them.

What has been the biggest challenge so far?
Engaging with landlords. Given the obvious challenges that the market is facing it is remarkable that so many landlords are still in denial. We are very lucky to have managed to build an excellent relationship with Legal and General: a forward thinking landlord.

If you are or know a company, which has been put off physical retail by inflexible leases, high rates and rents Sook has a solution. Head to their website www.sook.shop to find out how they can provide affordable customisable retail solution to help grow your brand.

Follow @sookretail on Instagram and Facebook.

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