Hockley set to thrive

Hockley set to thrive as new generation of retail and leisure businesses looks for thriving heritage environments

Hockley and the Lace Market have been hailed as the “most thriving parts of Nottingham” by the team behind a consultancy which is taking a new approach to property.

Ben Tebbutt and Frankie Labbate have teamed up to form Box Property, a consultancy which is already acting for a number of emerging retail and leisure brands which look set to change the face of retail destinations.

They bring together several years of experience in retail and leisure consultancy, among them helping the independent coffee brand 200 Degrees to take a concept pioneered in Nottingham into other UK cities.

Now, they are convinced that the cultural and creative renaissance of Hockley and the Lace Market has opened up opportunities to bring in a new breed of shops, cafes and restaurants that have been gaining ground in other major cities.

Tebbutt and Labbate set up Box Property as a new style of consultancy ready to bring a fresh approach to the property market, which they say now demands greater insight and intelligence.

“It will always be a hard-headed commercial market, but the days when retailers rolled out chains across the UK on the basis of a few numbers are over,” Tebbutt explained.

“The online era has punched a hole in some of the traditional footfall and square footage assumptions, and brands want to deliver authentic experiences in genuine environments. That’s a much more nuanced judgement.”

While many chains now adopt an omni-channel approach, selling online and in traditional retail stores, a new generation of emerging retail and leisure businesses want to deliver personal experiences through original concepts which work best in fashionable, heritage locations.

“This is why Hockley makes so much sense for them,” Tebbutt explained. “It’s one of the most thriving parts of Nottingham and a contrast to some of the more traditional locations, which have struggled.”

So far, these fresh new retail and leisure experiences include the likes of Universal Works, the contemporary menswear business based inside the iconic Rough Trade store, the Ugly Bread craft bakery and deli café, and the pizza bar and restaurant Suede.

“This transformation hasn’t happened overnight,” said Tebbutt. “It’s the result of the city taking a long, hard look at an historic quarter of Nottingham, understanding that people value authentic cultural experiences, and investing in making that experience more visible and accessible.

“The City has invested in reducing or removing traffic, improving the public realm, and making the cultural experience more prominent through initiatives like the Creative Quarter.

“What that’s translated into is an eclectic mix of shops, venues and destinations, a place where you can sit out, sit in and enjoy fresh and intriguing retail and leisure experiences.”

For Box Property, it has also translated into interest from retail and leisure operators who have already enjoyed success in destinations like Manchester’s Northern Quarter, Stokes Croft in Bristol and Bold Street in Liverpool.

“They have come to Nottingham, wandered into Hockley, and felt a similar kind of cultural vibe,” says Labbate. “That makes them feel confident that there are going to be curious, affluent customers who have an appetite for what they’re offering.”

Labbate says the numbers still have to stack up for these emerging ventures, and he points to the 24/7 nature of Hockley, with thriving creative and professional businesses – many of them digital-centric – alongside flats and apartments inhabited by singles and co