In our last Human Discussions talk, Kate chatted with John Hoyle, founder and CEO of Sook, a new innovative retail property company that allows you to book retail spaces on the high street by the hour.
John used to work for a property developer, he knows about what being a landlord means, the economics of a shop and the problems that may come from it. At the time, he decided to leave his job and started working for a company focused around solving big social problems using tech, which saw him working in Africa.
After that, he wanted to combine his incredible knowledge and experience or working in commercial property with his passion for democratising it. Sook was born. It has been operating for two years now and John hopes it could help the recovery of the high streets after the pandemic.
The company was born from the simplest of ideas. According to John, it was absurd to create a very expensive physical store and then only be able to make profit on a Saturday. By doing so, only the big brands are able to shoulder the costs. The interesting independent brands are not able to do so. Sook was born on the idea of accessibility, it wants to optimise shops and make them fair and easy even for the smallest of brands.
The company allows brands to possess a physical space only when it is needed or wanted, it maximises the utility of the shop. For instance, if you know that your customers prefer to shop on a Friday morning, you can select the space only on that time. The interesting part is that you can design your space online and you can actually walk around it in 3D. You can know how the shop will look like and, if you are a start-up you can also show it to your investors so they will know what to expect. You just have to go to the website and you will be able to create your space really quickly. The spaces are equipped with digital screens which allow you to instantly change the content to fit the mood, promotion or needs of your customers. You can also rent various fixtures from the company for a very affordable price.
The creation of Sook can definitely improve the relationship between landlords and tenants. The company allows the tenant to make use of the space only when it is needed but, at the same time, allow the landlords to make money from the asset, to have full transparency of who’s using the space.
In addition to this, Sook allows these physical places to become more interesting thanks to the fact that a different selection of brands will occupy them. Due to its focus on accessibility, even those smaller and independent brands will be able to access the Carnaby Street type of retail experience. Moreover, also those brands that are based in other countries will be able to build a local community and to reach those consumers that, normally, they would not be able to interact with.
It is interesting to know that Sook not only provides physical spaces for brands that want to sell their products, but they can also become art galleries or even a place where you can propose to your loved one, as it has recently happened. In addition to the wedding proposal, the spaces provided by Sook have been already used for festivals, film screening or fitness classes.
Sook is a really innovative company in the retail space, and these are only few of the elements touched by Kate and John in this webinar.
If you want to know more, listen the full webinar here!