intu has launched a new community-based retail strategy to promote local businesses and give a fresh boost to independents.
The first venture being tested is The Birdhouse Café that has just launched at intu Broadmarsh in Nottingham. The concept will be introduced to more of intu’s shopping destinations as part of its new five-year transformation strategy. Each venture will operate as a standalone, rent-paying tenant, led by a retail specialist and run in partnership with local suppliers.
The Birdhouse Café works with Nottingham-based coffee roastery 200 Degrees, Ugly Bread Bakery and soft drink specialist Belvoir, and also provides retail and events space to other small and start-up brands.
Trevor Pereira, commercial director at intu, said: “We wanted to test whether a landlord can make this kind of move into direct retailing and explore the benefits it would provide our visitors, existing brands and the wider community.
“It was important to us that the new business we created would operate as a standalone venture with its own team who would have to face the same challenges as any other retailer, so that we could really test the concept.”
Pereira continued: “Our ambition is to grow this concept at other intu destinations across the UK as part of our new strategy to transform our centres and nurture the best brands. We think this has the potential to show how small and independent businesses can thrive alongside international names to create the best possible retail and leisure experience.”
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, added: “Retail has long been a centre of innovation and forward thinking. We welcome any efforts that can help to invigorate our high streets, retail parks and shopping centres.
“While the rise of the internet has opened consumers up to new ways of shopping, healthy high streets continue to play a vital part in strengthening local communities.”