UK food and drink hubs set to grow at pace in 2016

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

UK food and drink hubs set to grow at pace in 2016
Food hubs will continue to spread across London and beyond, with new developments having been given the green light for 2016.

Plans to open a second Boxpark, in Croydon, have got the go-ahead, with the retail unit set to launch in the south London borough next summer. It follows the first Boxpark development, constructed from shipping containers and dubbed the UK’s first pop-up shopping mall, which opened in Shoreditch in 2011.

The Croydon development will differ from the original in that it will be 100 per cent food and drink​ orientated, unlike at Shoreditch where space is also given over to shops and fashion retail. It will be double the size of the original, with the 20,000sq ft site comprising 80 shipping containers and having a capacity for 2,000 people.

Boxpark founder and CEO Roger Wade says that 75 per cent of the units are already signed up, with 10 per cent of them taken by Croydon-based businesses. Restaurant brands already confirmed include MEATliquor, which will split its concept to include a restaurant and separate bar, Bukowski and Bang Bang Vietnamese Canteen.

“After Leeds, Singapore and Islington, we feel Croydon is the obvious next step,” says MEATliquor co-founder Scott Collins. “Our roots are south London so it’s a homecoming of sorts. What Roger and the team are doing with Boxpark and Croydon is pretty ballsy. We like that.”

Street food players Viet Do An and Bhangra Burgers will also use the development to open their first permanent sites. 

London Union, the street food company set up earlier this year by Jonathan Downey and Henry Dimbleby, is also pushing ahead with its plans to open food markets across the capital. In October it launched a bid to raise £3.5m​ through online crowdfund platform Seedrs to fund the creation of a flagship market as well as 12 local sites that will house 200 trader pitches and feature 100 bars.

The company today announced it had raised £2.5m through crowdfunding with plans to raise the remaining £1m through private investment. 

Dimbleby says the group hopes to have seven of the local markets open by next summer and to have secured the flagship site next year to open the following year.

“We need money to be able to convince the big landlords we can move quickly,” he says. “That’s what this is about so we can seize sites quickly as they come up.

“We are in discussions with one of the iconic London market sites that we are optimistic about and the idea of having a floating market on the Thames is still a possibility. We’ve moved forward a lot from the
beginning of the summer.” 

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