A Changing Of The Old Guard in Retail. LDC Partners With Landlords to Save The Highstreet, One Empty Unit At A Time.
LDC breathes life back into the high street, demonstrating the way forward is fluid, innovative landlord partnerships and re-imaged retail spaces.
2020 was a challenging year for the economy, with several of the 6,0001 net store closures in the first half of the year. This number was a record high compared with 3,509 closures in the first half of last year. However, despite this being one of the most challenging years for the UK high street, Lone Design Club (LDC) has developed an innovative formula to reintroduce the key-missing ingredient for independent designers and brands.
In a groundbreaking move, LDC has partnered with landlords up and down the country to activate empty retail spaces, giving small brands access to locations that wouldn't generally be possible and keeping vacant retail units at bay. These spaces are being utilised in many ways, becoming shoot locations, hosting various LFW activities, shoppable windows, dark stores, and physical pop-ups.
LDC and the landlords involved are delighted with these activations’ success, with sales improving and new tenants secured for 2021. 44% of units are now long-term let, and “shoppable windows” are seriously driving community engagement - with shoppers three times more likely to purchase online having seen the items/curation in the windows.
With new partnerships confirmed daily, the project is gaining momentum. With most recent note partners in Cardiff’s St David’s Shopping Centre, Bart’s Square, Farringdon, The Glades, Bromley, and Islington Square, the team is proud to bring life back to the high street and will continue to do so, one unit at a time. With new partnerships now secured well into 2021 for the UK and plans to return to physical activities in Milan, Paris, and Berlin moving into 2022, LDC is a driving force in the movement to save the high street.
“Working with LDC has always been a pleasure. Our most notable partnership started back in May 2020 on South Molton Street, where we orchestrated a street-wide project with LDC and our client, the City of London Corporation, one of the majority stakeholders of South Molton Street.
At a time when most retailers were closing down their bricks-and-mortar sites, LDC embraced the opportunity and created their incredibly forward-thinking ‘phygital’ stores, bringing tech and the all-important QR code to our high streets! The LDC ethos of giving sustainably-minded, independent brands a platform is very much the type of message and concept we want to see more of on South Molton Street and across the West End. We are working hard to re-energise the tenant mix in this portfolio, and LDC is playing a big part in attracting the type of brands we want to align with for long-term positions on the street.
This creative partnership with LDC has meant that despite being in the midst of a devastating global pandemic, the City of London Corporation has maintained between 84% - 100% occupancy levels across their retail portfolio on South Molton Street as reducing their Business rates liability. We’re very proud to have been such a pivotal part of LDC’s growth this year, leading the charge in the evolution of the bricks-and-mortar retail experience. We look forward to seeing what’s still to come.” Hannah Barter, Kenningham Retail.
Tom Ridge, Asset Manager at The Crown Estate, commented:
“Lone Design Club is a cutting edge concept, which speaks to consumers who are increasingly wanting digital experiences from retail. It has been great to see the success of its two pop-ups in the Regent Street portfolio, which opened at the end of last year. We look forward to continuing to work with Lone Design Club and other new innovative brands as we evolve our offer to reflect shoppers changing expectations.”
Rebecca Morter explains: “Even before the Covid-19 crisis, the landscape of the physical high street has been in a state of flux for some time. With many store closures, more empty units on the high street than ever before, and young designers are struggling to pay rents and high rates, change needed to come. Importantly, we needed to think outside the box and look for new collaborative ways of working.
LDC are delighted that landlords have embraced the need for change. We’re seeing such a positive impact of these collaborations with massive estates such as South Molton Street, Kenningham Retail, and the City of London Corporation helping to drive this change. Seeing this new format combining so well with our existing pop-up model, we hope to demonstrate to other independents that landlords are open to new, more creative ways of working. And that these fantastic locations are possible for independent brands” Comments Lone Design Club CEO Rebecca Morter, Forbes 30 Under 30.
LDC continues to go from strength to strength. Most recently winning the Retails Futures 2020:Fashion District Innovation Challenge, a place on the Barclays Female Founders TechStars and the Cambridge Accelerator programs, They were recognised as innovators in the retail sector, pushing the boundaries of digital and physical retail. Using this fund, they will continue with these efforts, further integrating new technologies such as VR and AI into their 2021/22 pop-ups.
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McCluskey PR- Laura McCluskey
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