A property company which rents out space to pop-up shops by the hour is opening up at the North East’s biggest shopping centre in response to the crisis in the retail sector.

Sook gives retailers the chance to trade in popular retail locations without committing to long-term costs, while also turning empty shops into rentable spaces.

It already has units in Edinburgh, London and Cambridge which have helped SMEs reach high street customers.

 

Now, as the high street continues to battle challenges triggered by the popularity of online shopping and three national lockdowns, the firm has opened up at the Metrocentre in Gateshead.

The company has opened a new space in the Upper Red Mall, where it hopes to help a number of businesses with its bi-hourly rental model.

Sook, which is based in London, uses footfall data and heatmap analytics to help businesses decide upon the most profitable times to open.

Sook spaces are deliberately blank canvases, so pop-ups can quickly set up inside. They combine digital walls and modular furniture including adaptable window shelving bays, so firms renting the unit can set up in a matter of minutes rather than hours or days.

John Hoyle, CEO of Sook, said: “I believe that retail needs to be flexible and work around the need of each individual business. It needs a sustainable model which lets companies run the business at bespoke times to maximise profitability

“Metrocentre hosts a fantastic array of shops, restaurants and leisure attractions and we’re delighted to be opening our fifth space alongside them. We have an exciting pipeline of openings coming up and look forward to helping businesses change the way communities are engaging with their stores.”

The company’s other spaces around the country have been used to host workshops, fitness classes and product launches.

It already has a selection of brands lined up for the Gateshead unit, including Enterprise Nation, the UK’s leading small business network and business support provider, and the Women’s Business Station, the social enterprise group that works with women to help them start their business journeys.

The Sook unit at the Metrocentre
The Sook unit at the Metrocentre (Image: Sook)

Angie De Vos, CEO of Women’s Business Station, said: “After the success of our two week pop-up at Sook St James Quarter, we are so excited to be working with the incredible Sook team again in Gateshead’s Metrocentre. This is a fantastic opportunity for our members to raise their brand awareness within a prime retail location and we look forward to working with Sook moving forward to rethink the high street in future locations.”

Tom Nuttall of Sovereign Centros, leasing and asset manager for Metrocentre, added: “The world of retail is constantly evolving and this innovative new concept from Sook will provide opportunities to a range of businesses to use the centre as a testbed for their products and services.

“It will provide retailers with an opportunity to showcase their products to a new audience and the digital screens and inventive store layout will provide a state of the art backdrop to a range of occupiers.”