The Lone Design Club (LDC) is partnering with landlords to save the high street “one empty unit at a time” by re-imaging retail by introducing independent designers and brands.
2020 was a challenging year for retail and the economy, and LDC aims to activate empty retail spaces by giving small brands access to locations that wouldn’t generally be possible while ensuring that vacant units are used as a benefit to local high streets.
The empty units are being utilised in many ways, added LDC, including becoming shoot locations, hosting various LFW activities, shoppable windows, dark stores, and physical pop-ups.
LDC states that the landlords involved are “delighted” with these activations’ success, with sales improving and new tenants secured for 2021. Some 44 percent of units are now long-term let, and shoppable windows are driving community engagement, with shoppers three times more likely to purchase online having seen the items/curation in the windows.
Lone Design Club chief executive, Rebecca Morter said in a statement: “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.”
Lone Design Club expands partnership with landlords to revitalise the high street
LDC’s most notable partnership started in May 2020 on London’s South Molton Street with a street-wide project, with recent partners including Cardiff’s St David’s Shopping Centre, Bart’s Square, Farringdon, The Glades, Bromley, and Islington Square.
Hannah Barter, Kenningham Retail, added: “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 percent 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.”
Tom Ridge, asset manager at The Crown Estate, said: “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.”
LDC adds that new partnerships have been secured well into 2021 for the UK, with 18 immersive pop-up planned for this year, and has plans to return to physical activities in Milan, Paris, and Berlin moving into 2022.