Pop-up firm Sook tops £1m sales as Instagram businesses dabble with bricks-and-mortar retail
Pop-up retail company Sook has hit £1m sales, with CEO John Hoyle telling CityA.M. an “explosion” of social media brands are looking for flexible spaces.
Speaking to CityA.M., Hoyle said small businesses who use TikTok and Instagram are increasingly keen to venture into physical retail on a flexible basis.
The company has seven spaces in the UK, including London sites in Oxford St, Hammersmith, 42 South Molton St and 10 South Molton St.
Sook’s model offers “versatility and flexibility” to retailers and comes on the back of a wave of big name store closures over the past few years, including Debenhams and Topshop.
“We’re not even sure really whether Oxford St will be as valuable as a commuter town, a commuter town might end up having more relevance to brands than Oxford St. We can test [locations] with low commitment and try again.”
Social-media brands to join forces with Sook lately included Freddie’s Flowers and lingerie brand Suspect.
Hoyle describes Freddies Flowers as “a massive online brand that doesn’t need shops,” with the florists using space at Sook’s site in Ikea’s smaller format Livat store in Hammersmith.
“These online brands are often 20-something women and [it’s a case of] you are your brand. You’re making money but you can’t get noticed as it’s so expensive to advertise online.”
“It’s kind of a reflection on what you see on Instagram marketplace,” Hoyle adds. “For all the big social media guys, the new battleground is sellers on their platforms as they can take a cut of that.”
“That’s an explosion of brands that just didn’t exist five years ago but they actually all do want to be in real life when it suits them, not all the time, but occasionally.”
And it’s not just shops. The company has been working with retail banks, as many branches have permanently shuttered across the country.
Hoyle explains: “Why not have a bank that’s open at lunchtime on weekdays, when people actually go?”
Sook also works with exercise businesses including yoga teachers and personal trainers. This has picked up recently as “now people are back in the office and there is less flexibility around time, people can use latent spaces for exercise especially where there are offices nearby.”