It seems as though Dick Whittington should have been looking a little further beneath his feet when he proclaimed, “the streets of London are paved with gold.”
In a move that is hoped will raise £3.5bn in order to regenerate the capital’s transport network, TfL has joined forces with Appear Here, the online marketplace for short-term rentals, in plans to rent out unoccupied retail space within the infrastructure of the underground network.
TfL plans to offer the retail space for short-term hire in order to provide “exciting retail opportunities for London commuters.” It will also offer an opportunity for brands, designers, artists and entrepreneurs to access prime retail environments in key stations within the capital including Old Street, Piccadilly Circus, St James’s Park and Baker Street. Set to launch at the end of April, the first rollout will see around 15 retail units transform into pop-up shops.
Speaking about the partnership, Mike Brown MVO, managing director of London Underground, said: “Millions of people use our stations every day and we are always looking at innovative ways to improve our customers’ experience of using the transport network.
“Pop-up shops are a fantastic way to showcase new products on a temporary basis,” Brown continued. “As well as ensuring our retail offer is vibrant, we are also excited about giving new business ventures exposure to our huge customer base.”
Ross Bailey, CEO and founder of Appear Here added: “We see this as a great opportunity for innovative brands, ambitious start-ups and hungry entrepreneurs.
“Appear Here’s purpose is to help people make their ideas travel and with millions of commuters travelling on TfL’s network every day, we recognised there was a real opportunity for savvy retailers and entrepreneurs to reach their target market.”
Last year, as part of London Underground’s 150th anniversary, Nike used a vacant retail unit at Piccadilly Circus to sell limited edition trainers to mark the occasion. But never mind trainers – small businesses will need to get their skates on if they’re to snap up this latest opportunity.