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Fashion Firms Are Going Pop-Up

9 October, 2015

Karen Prats and David Pérez, founders of Pop Places / Barcelona Activa. Pop Places

The need to have a space for a short period of time is growing and the company PopPlaces is delivering on this demand with a groundbreaking business model.

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Testing new markets, boosting brand recognition and running specific campaigns are some of the many things that can make a fashion firm require a space where it can set up quickly and, above all, for a short period of time. A pop-up is a type of retail space and one which led to the name of the company PopPlaces, founded by Karen Prats and David Pérez. The pair first began to research the number of premises available in the Spanish property market in March 2014 and found between 25% and 30% of the total offering up for grabs. They quickly compared this figure with the growth in the trend for pop-up fashion stores and the result was their web-based start-up which, in just over a year, has appealed to investors and clients, drawn to the skilful way they unite demand and supply in the retail world.

“Our goal is to find the right place for the right public. If a shoe label wants to test the German market, we want to be able to offer them the best street and premises in the country for their product and public,” Prats explains. Both she and her business partner, who during this conversation was in Colombia sounding out the firm’s business possibilities, are putting “a great deal of effort” into explaining that the market they target exists. “There is a need to have premises available for a short-term action carried out by fashion labels, and our company delivers on that need”.

Providing financial backing

The rounds of financing and the number of investors who have believed in the project to date speaks to what she says. In June the company attracted €207,000 from 47 investors in just 21 days. This is in addition to the €120,000 start-up capital they were given by some of the best-known names in the business including  Carlos Blanco, from Akamon; Miguel Vicente, from LetsBonus; Gerard Olivé, from Wallapop, and Marc Vidal, from IDODI, on top of the participation of the Godó Group in the form of advertising investment for the firm. Then there is the business project that made PopPlaces the winning entrant from among 122 proposals presented in the framework of the business competition Connector, run by Barcelona Activa.

In order to increase the knowledge of the pop up store concept and its advantages, the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce is organizing on 29 October, a workshop dedicated to the potential of the ephemeral stores. This activity, aimed at entrepreneurs, traders or entrepreneurs, explores the characteristics and opportunities of this distribution model and keys for success. Also, in November, the company will hold a sector meeting in Barcelona to discuss this retail trend with its main competitors. “The Pop-Up Summit, which we will hold from 24 to 26 November, will also bring together institutions and organisations that represent smart cities. We will propose a new, more efficient model of managing commercial spaces for the city,” Prats says.

Collaborating for growth

But to achieve this perfect partnership between firms that need a pop-up store and available spaces isn’t easy. “You have to have figures and on-the-ground knowledge about the features of the street concerned, for example the type of public, the other stores nearby, etc. We need locations we can segment well in order for them to be more useful. We target cities that generate trends and have a model that is global and scalable,” says the founder of PopPlaces. Right now the company has around 700 premises available to rent, offering locations in Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia and the Balearic Islands. “The Balearics have a very high demand related to the summer season so they are short-term actions that fit with our model,” Prats explains.

Beyond Spain, the market is huge, which is why they have started to work with countries where this business model is still in its infancy. Go—PopUp in Germany and My pop corner in France are just two of the companies they are talking with to forge partnerships that will allow them to share information and better match brands with available spaces in those countries. “Whether it’s for companies from abroad who want to come to Spain or firms from here who want to go to France or Germany, if we share information we can offer our customers better services,” Karen Prats says. The UK, a pioneer in retail innovation, is not involved in this globalisation process because, as Prats says, “it is a much more mature market where there are competitors with longstanding experience. Examples include Appear Here and We Are Pop Up.

True to their condition as a start-up, Prats and Pérez never stop innovating. That’s why, in addition to the event in November to discuss the emerging pop-up model, they also intend to shortly open a premise in Barcelona’s Born neighbourhood where they can host fashion labels on an itinerant and short-term basis in one of the city’s most attractive shopping areas. “We are also exploring the possibility of promoting a permanent space in Barcelona but with itinerant content, inspired by London’s Boxpark,” says Prats, referring to the shopping centre made from old shipping containers in Bethnal Green, one of the English capital’s most fashionable areas.

Despite that, the focus of PopPlaces’ activity over the coming months will be improving the services they offer through their Internet portal. “We want to simplify the process of opening a pop-up store as much as possible. It’s a much more complicated project than it seems. Now labels can have extra services in addition to renting a premise. We can offer them catering, PoS rentals, cleaning services and sales material at a click,” Karen Prats says, adding that the list will continue to grow and that the goal is to “make it possible for our customers, in this case fashion firms, to be able to get a store up and running anywhere in the world in a day”.

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