From designer lingerie to hair products, Hong Kong start-up PopUp Angels offers retailers super short leases to show off

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 February, 2016, 8:10pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 February, 2016, 5:14pm

Hong Kong start-up PopUp Angels is offering a short-term alternative to retailers and landlords with pop-up store rentals as shop vacancies across the city continue to rise.

Launched in November in Hong Kong, the PopUp Angels portal lets retailers, or food and beverage companies, test ideas and reach new markets without committing to a long contract.

While demand from potential tenants is high, the city’s landlords are slowly coming round to the idea as their traditional model comes under threat from slumping retails sales.

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“Given that the retail market in Hong Kong has been doing so well in the past few years, it takes a while for the landlords to realise the golden age has passed and it’s time to find different ways to maximise the use of their vacant spaces,” said Kit Chan, director of PopUp Angels.

Real Estate Agency Sheraton Valuers predicted the vacancy rate for ground floor stores in Causeway Bay to reach one in 10 in the wake of the recently ended Lunar New Year holiday.

Retail sales recorded a year-on-year decrease of 3.7 per cent in 2015, hitting the lowest level since 2002, pushing many retailers to close stores.

The start-up is aimed at companies testing a new idea or online retailers wanting to open a bricks and mortar store for a short period to boost their brands’ presence.

PopUp Angels offer spaces to rent for any period from one day to up to a year, Chan said.

Rental prices range from HK$3,000 (US$386) a day for a 375-sq-ft space in Central to HK$25,000 a week for two-storey location in the Western district.

The start-up is also able to put potential tenants in touch with contractors and help guide them through any licensing issues.

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It launched last September in Singapore, where the majority of vacant properties it lists are in shopping malls, according to Adrian Chan, who heads the operation in the Lion City.

Melanie B, owner of Yoga BamBam, leases out the 375-sq-ft first floor space above her studio in Hong Kong's Central through PopUp Angels to help with costs and to bring in some creativity.

The former art gallery below PMQ - a design cluster on the grounds of the city’s former Police Married Quarters - was renovated with the goal of leasing the space as a pop-up by including internet access for card payment, a sturdy floor and lighting suitable for displaying art.

“I don’t like stagnation, so the idea of a pop-up is that it changes every weekend, or every week,” she said.

“So to have designer lingerie one week and then a hair product the next seems like a fun way to do it.”