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The Interview: Hannah Grievson, Property Director, Sloane Stanley Estate

Chloe Burney
16 December 2022

Hannah Grievson is the Property Director of Sloane Stanley Estate, she talks to the company's pioneering pop-up initiative on London's King's Road, as well as what it's like being a woman working in the male-dominated property space.

Established in 1717, the Sloane Stanley Estate has been part of Chelsea for over 300 years. It owns and manages hundreds of residential and commercial properties in London’s prestigious area. Continually adapting, the estate has created designated pop-up spaces for retailers on King's Road.

With e-commerce continuing to grow, more and more brands are shifting to online rather than brick-and-mortar spaces. Semi-permanent retail fixtures are a solution for many brands to increase their high street presence, without the commitment of long-term leases.

What does your role as Property Director see you handle?

As Property Director for the Sloane Stanley Estate, I am responsible for running the Estate’s commercial portfolio. I work closely with our leasing agents and marketing experts to evolve our offer to reflect the needs of residents and workers alike to secure the long-term future of the estate.

Can you tell us about Slone Stanley’s pop-up strategy? How do you decide who to bring in, where to offer them?

This was initially introduced to provide hassle-free, quick, and efficient spaces for small retailers to trade on one of the most famous streets in London. Reflecting both consumer and occupier demand, our strategy delivers a platform for retailers to engage with consumers and experience the benefits of physical retail. For many brands, this is the first time they have entered the brick-and-mortar market.

We handpick specific brands that complement the high street and other neighbouring tenants, but also those which offer something unique for the destination, enabling us to curate a relevant, innovative, and collaborative estate.

As part of our strategy, we give our tenants complete control of the installation and fit-out, as we understand that this is an important aspect of any brand journey, with each retailer’s look and feel different from the next. As an approachable and respected landlord, we always offer our full support and guidance, giving tenants flexibility and freedom over features such as paintwork, wall art, and signage.

Why did the business choose pop-ups and not permanent stores?

Over the past five years, pre-pandemic, we witnessed an increase in demand for pop-up space over permanent long leases and saw a huge gap in the market to provide a fully managed and flexible space for today’s up-and-coming brands. Our pop-up locations are typically white-boxed and ready to go, complete with the amenities needed for a physical store, which is ideal for brands wanting the whole package without the large investment and commitment.

Long-term leases can be risky for brands that have built a great online presence but are yet to trial physical retail. Our short-term lease capabilities, however, enable us to offer a fantastic address in London’s true Chelsea, woven together by progressive and established neighbouring tenants.

Why are pop-ups so popular currently amongst businesses instead of permanent brick-and-mortar stores?

Following a tumultuous few years, and given the current economic climate, now more than ever brands are looking for flexibility. Pop-ups give independent or fledgeling brands an opportunity to test the waters, try out a new concept, and establish relationships with their customers without having the long-term commitment and all the costs that come with that. It is also great for providing online-only brand space, particularly over seasonal periods such as Christmas and the summer months.

What is the appeal of a pop-up to small businesses vs. well-established larger brands?

The appeal of a pop-up to smaller independent brands is far-reaching. It relieves them of any long-term financial pressure and commitment and introduces them to the brick-and-mortar market where they can test stock, build relationships, and engage with their consumers face-to-face. It’s relatively low risk but can result in huge success. Larger, more established brands already have an eye for location and know which places will work for them.

Pop-ups tend to be used for seasonal campaigns, hosting PR events, and connecting with consumers on a more intimate level. As a commercial portfolio, we really notice the benefit and appeal of working with smaller or unique retailers. It allows us to curate a destination that celebrates innovation, creativity, and difference and enables us to deliver a community of brands that is constantly evolving, providing something different for consumers, tenants, residents, and locals.

What are your top 3 checklist items for considering a brand for a pop-up?

We always ask ourselves these three questions when considering a new brand for the Sloane Stanley estate:

  1. Does the brand offer something new and exciting to the area?
  2. Will the brand reflect the ‘true Chelsea’ and complement our existing tenant mix and its surrounding neighbours?
  3. Does the brand appeal to the particular consumer profile we attract on the King's Road and Fulham Road, and most importantly, will it be a destination retailer and drive footfall?

In your opinion, how has the pop-up strategy impacted UK retail?

The influx of pop-ups has had a really positive impact on the retail market in the UK. We are certainly seeing a much more widespread selection of brands on the estate, which is not dominated by big retailers.

The introduction of pop-ups has facilitated more accessibility to unique concepts and brands that champion authenticity and ethical values, such as sustainability. There is a more developed range of higher quality consumer goods, encouraging new ideas to flourish and consumers to champion independents. Our community is so important and we are proud to continually support the King’s Road and the Fulham Road at every opportunity.

What is your long-term vision for Sloane Stanley pop-ups?

The retail, F&B, and leisure offer on the estate has evolved over the last few years, and we’re proud to be sitting here today with a diverse and compelling offer. We would really like to push this success further and increase the number of dedicated pop-up spaces we have so we can continue introducing new concepts to the area, staying one step ahead of other landlords and high streets.

From a Sloane Stanley Estate perspective, we are always looking at ways we can improve by listening to our retailers and consumers and enriching the overall experience for our visitors and residents. We are looking to drive more health and well-being-themed, sustainable concepts as well as continuing to develop our leisure and F&B offer.

We want to remain the destination of choice for daytime through to evening and will continue to seek out opportunities for like-minded brands to grow in a diverse and nurturing neighbourhood.

Finally, do you see the property market as a traditionally male-dominated industry?

While the property industry has traditionally been male-dominated, I feel this is changing slowly. Within the Sloane Stanley team, it is very different, with women outnumbering men two to one. We also work alongside many female agents and solicitors, which is really positive. It’s good to ensure that you strike the right balance, and I’m proud to work in a business that empowers and champions women at every level.

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