Vacant to vibrant: Start-ups get retail space in empty West End shop

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The new West End store, offering a pop-up space to independent fashion brands, will launch before Christmas inside a former New Look branch on Oxford Street.

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The site at 500 Oxford Street has been vacant for over a year. But soon 1,000 square feet on the ground floor will be used temporarily for an art installation and 5,000 square feet on the first floor will be shared by smaller retailers, many of whom will focus on sustainability by January 2022.

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The launch of the store, called ‘The Collect’, aims to support entrepreneurs, diversify the retail offering in the region and attract more shoppers to the West End.

The number of people living in central London declined during the pandemic, as travel restrictions kept many office workers and tourists away, although numbers have improved recently.

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Topshop and Debenhams are among the chains to disappear from Oxford Street since the start of the year.

The collect will open on November 26 and welcome customers till January 24.

At the entrance of the store will be an art installation by artist Carson Parkin-Fairly. Businesses on the first floor include: Blake, which represents a group of independent designers creating clothing and jewelry; Old Clothes Seller Archive Six; Fashion firm Lone Design Club.

Other e-tailers showcasing the goods include Never Fade Factory, Loop Generation, Rebel Blends, Lana Hughes and Lofte.

The landlord has provided the space to Westminster City Council on an interim basis, with property agent James Andrew International representing the owner of the building. Business lobby group New West End Company is also involved in the project.

Councilor Matthew Green, Cabinet Member of Business, Licensing and Planning at Westminster City Council, said: “We are determined to do everything we can to bring the buzz back to the West End this Christmas. The latest visitor numbers are encouraging but it is a concern for many businesses. It’s a make-or-break festive season for

He added: “Covid and the pressure of online shopping have changed the high streets forever and we know more needs to be done to support the ongoing revival of the sector.”

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