South African social enterprise concept comes to UK for first time
The Big Box Co, a South Africa-based retail property developer with a focus on social innovation and regeneration, has launched a search its first sites in the UK.
Created in Durban by CEO Murray Clarke, the concept is a new take on the conventional shopping centre model with modular small format stores run by entrepreneurs who receive funding, education and mentoring through The Big Box Co’s non-profit Lightbox Project. The first site, launched in Kwa Mashu near Durban in 2016, was created from upcycled shipping containers and is now home to 28 businesses including hair salons, clothing boutiques and cafes as well as an on-site training centre.
In the UK, Savills has been retained to find sites of 60,000 to 100,000 sq ft in major cities, including brownfield land and historic buildings with potential for regeneration.
Sean Gillies, head of UK retail at Savills, said: “The face of retail is changing. It is clear that people of all ages, and perhaps millennials in particular, are drawn to experiences and a sense of connection. The Big Box Co approach perfectly encapsulates this and we believe they will be immensely popular with UK consumers.”