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January 18, 2013

Pop-up businesses to benefit from empty retail space?

Newly-vacated stores previously used by the likes of Jessops and HMV could be made available for independent 'pop-up' retailers looking for space on the high street. That's the message that a new body – the PopUp Forum – has taken to the administrators of HMV and Jessops this week.

The PopUp Forum includes Dan Thompson from the Empty Shops Network, Emma Jones of StartUp Britain and Nick Russell from We Are Pop Up. The Forum is proposing that boarded-up high street shops are made available at affordable rates to hundreds of home-grown British businesses.

Emma Jones said: "We're working with the administrators' lawyers to contact landlords and find out if we can take control of a percentage of the newly-closed shops with a view to offering affordable retail spaces to small and start-up British retail businesses, on a rolling basis."

She added: "Last year may have been a bad year for big retailers, but it was a record year for British start-ups. Our local high streets are in trouble – and yet what small retail business wouldn't give their right arm for the chance to trade in their own communities, generating sales and awareness of their brand?"

Nick Russell said: "The job of administration is a long and arduous process that can take years. What we've asked for is the chance to throw open boarded-up shops for an agreed time to small businesses and give consumers the chance to support British enterprise."

PopUp Britain, which is currently being showcased at the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG), sees six small businesses and start-ups co-funding and co-working in a retail space for two weeks at a time. A specific pop-up lease has been developed to cover legal issues.

Dan Thompson, author of Pop Up Business For Dummies, said: "Creative, independent shops and businesses are a growing part of the British economy right now. Times are hard, yes, but resourceful people are making business ideas come to life and are reinventing the high street."

According to the latest statistics from the British Retail Consortium (BRC), 11.3% of shops are now empty.