New 'pop up by the hour' designer outlet spies St James Quarter deal

A retail chain which rents out designer pop up shops by the hour in prime locations is in advanced negotations to open its latest branch in Edinburgh’s new St James Quarter development, it has emerged.

St James Quarter development. Picture: LISA FERGUSON
St James Quarter development. Picture: LISA FERGUSON

With existing sites in London and Cambridge, Sook is an ‘adaptive retail’ solution offering retailers and business owners the chance to host their business in sought after spaces in some of Britain’s most popular retail locations.

Following the success of its spaces on footfall-heavy high streets like Oxford Street, South Molton Street and South Kensington in London, as well as in shopping centres like The Grafton in Cambridge, the team behind Sook have now set their sights on branching out in Edinburgh.

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It is understood that the business is in negotiations with St James Quarter to host a space for pop-up retailers in Edinburgh’s St James Quarter but a deal has not yet been finalised.

Sook’s website disclosed a ‘coming soon’ spot at the St James Quarter in the Scottish capital alongside its existing spaces across the UK, with further details revealed through a job advertisement posted by employment website FUSE Edinburgh for a ‘customer success manager’ at a Sook site which appears to be located at the St James Quarter.

FUSE, the recruitment initiative launched by the St James Quarter and serves both the new development and the wider Edinburgh area, recently kickstarted a recruitment drive for 450 retail and hospitality jobs in the capital ahead of the St James Quarter opening this year.

The Sook job advertisement, which described the business as ‘expanding rapidly’, noted that the management role could provide further opportunities for career progression.

With its aim to revolutionise the high-street, Sook has previously seen its spaces used for innovative pop-up ventures from a range of brands, businesses and retailers.

Among these are popular Depop sellers like Celiapop, who sells secondhand vintage and designer clothing on the app, and the Toy Box Club, which seeks to improve sustainability of children’s toys with its monthly toy subscription service.

The potential new pop-up site would allow independent businesses to cash in on a wider audience at popular retail areas like the St James Quarter, without having to splash out on rent to compete with rival businesses in the complex. With the high street left facing considerable challenges following repeated lockdowns due to the pandemic, it is likely that similar endeavours to shake-up the format will gain popularity in the near future.

Roddy Smith, CEO of Essential Edinburgh, said: “Retail and how it uses space is changing quickly and this looks an innovative way to providing different retailers with short term opportunities. We need to embrace these new ideas and I look forward to seeing how it does when it opens.”

We reached out to Sook and the St James Quarter for comment on the proposed Sook site at the St James Quarter, but neither party responded to our request.

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