Ross Bailey CEO & Founder of Appear Here

Posted on 03 February 2020

Susan Freeman

Hi, I’m Susan Freeman, welcome back to our PropertyShe podcast series brought to you by Mishcon de Reya in association with the London Real Estate Forum where I get to interview some of the key influencers in the fantastic world of real estate and the built environment.  Today I am delighted to welcome Ross Bailey.  Ross is the CEO and Founder of Appear Here the leading online marketplace for short-term retail space.  Based on the concept that renting retail space should be as easy as booking a hotel room, Appear Here’s mission is to create a world where anyone with an idea can find space to make it happen.  Hailed a digital game changer for the High Street by the Guardian, Appear Here lists over 10,000 spaces across the UK, US and France.  With over 200,000 brands in its community, Appear Here works with everyone from Google, Chanel and Apple to start-ups including Daily Paper, Rip and Dip, Away and thousands of other independents and creatives. Named as one of Wired’s 100 Hottest Start-Ups, Appear Here has become the go to destination to make innovative and creative ideas happen.  Ross started his entrepreneurial journey aged just 16.  Determined to launch his own business, Ross tested his different ideas by launching a string of successful pop-up shops in destinations across London including the Rock and Rule pop-up for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.  It was from this experience Ross’s vision for Appear Here was born. Wildly quoted on retail e-commerce and technology, Ross has appeared in many publications including GQ, Monocle, Wired and TechCrunch.  Recognised for his achievements, Ross has been named one of Fast Companies most creative people in business and also one of British Airways 100 Most Influential Britain’s.  So now we are going to hear from Ross Bailey on how he came to set up Appear Here and how it is revolutionising retail.  Ross welcome to the studio.

Ross Bailey

Thank you for having me, Susan.

Susan Freeman

So thinking about this, we originally met through social media I think, Twitter, when you were starting your business and I thought well this looks really interesting you we should have a chat about it.

Ross Bailey

Right again.

Susan Freeman

So it does show that Twitter actually is a really good platform to see things as they come through.  If we could just talk a little bit about how things got started. I know you described yourself as a school dropout from Luton but that doesn’t really tell the whole story.  But I think you started off at a pretty amazing academy and did that sort of put you on the road to entrepreneurship?

Ross Bailey

So I was born in a village in Bedfordshire called Westerling and lived in the same house my whole life and year at around 16 I decided to quit school and you know, I had always been sort of entrepreneurial.  So when I was 12 I started DJ’ing with my cousin and we would be these sort of young guys that were DJ’ing anniversary and bar mitzvah’s and all these different things and when I got to 16 these events had evolved into me renting out nightclubs myself and I turned these nightclubs into under-18 nights and they were doing really well and I guess I was sat at school, I was little bit bored at the time and I remember I just sort of quit and I was reading the newspaper and a guy on Dragon’s Den, Peter Jones had just started this entrepreneur academy and he wanted 30 young guys/girls to move into a hotel and basically be taught by entrepreneurs.  So went and I applied and there were you know, hundreds of people there and he picked, I think it was 25 of us, and for six to nine months we lived in a hotel and every day we were taught by different entrepreneurs and set challenges but there were no text books so it was about learning by doing and it was this amazing experience because suddenly you had these incredible people sat in the room and you started to understand their own journey’s and you know one of the big things I saw that most of these guys and girls had in common was that they had just gone for it, they just believed it was possible.  So I guess at quite a young age it set this sort of mentality that sort of anything was possible and to dare to sort of go for things and I left that school and I moved to London at around 16/17 and I started to work and do things and I always had a different project going and I remember I then went to the School of Communication Arts which was a very famous advertising school back in the day.  Graham Think who did the Levi’s ads and all of these amazing people came out of this ad school and again a bit like Peter Jones’ school, this man called Mark Evans who was a technology entrepreneur decided to re-set it up with a few of these old amazing students and again they picked 20/25 students and loads of people applied and when you started, I mean it was an empty Church in Boxall and the first day they said, ‘go out, you’ve each got £30, go find your desk’.  So people were sort of heaving in sort of sofa’s they had found off the street, old doors, all different things to make up these desks, it was an absolute cluster of furniture and ideas and craziness and we were taught every day in this school by the teacher who came to work every day on a Segway with multi-coloured trousers and his hair like Professor Bean, but he is incredible and gain you were just learning from people in advertising and from entrepreneurs.  And then post that, I was obsessed with technology, I was obsessed with what was going on in advertising.  I was interested in entrepreneurship and I remember you know, just reading all the time about decline of the High Street and how retail was dying and you know I was a young guy that was bought up on technology and e-commerce and all these things which in many ways technology had democratised entrepreneurship, made it possible for anyone to do stuff and in 2012 it was the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and I just thought I want to be part of this so I decided that me and my best friend would sell t-shirts.  So we set it up online and luckily online people like Shopify had made it easy so you could go on this site and within a matter of hours suddenly I could sell these t-shirt globally and then I also wanted to do it offline because hey it was the Jubilee, everyone was on the streets, there was this massive national celebration and people had been doing shops offline since the beginning of time and there were all these empty stores so it would be easy right?  But unlike online, when I tried doing it offline it was pure frustration and what I quickly realised is that in many ways retail, traditional offline retail had been set up for businesses of a certain scale and no one had started to think about people getting started and people at the beginning of their journey and I guess I was wondering why that was and in the end I guess I realised that maybe just nobody had dared to think about how could we solve it for those people.  So I started off with that question of why does it suck so much to launch a store offline and I can remember like yesterday, I was sat at the top of Waterstones in Piccadilly with a really successful technology entrepreneur that I had managed to get some time off and I started to explaining to him these problems and these questions I had around traditional retail and what was going on there and why was it so complex and difficult and why was there so much friction and look how simple it was online.  I remember leaving that coffee and thinking the t-shirt idea might be a good idea but solving this problem of why shops suck so much offline and how can we make that better, and how could we solve that and if we did solve it, would there be tons more people, would there be tons more entrepreneurs that would do this kind of stuff.  That could be a great idea and a little bit after that, it took me about a year of thinking about the question, trying to understand real estate – I had no idea about real estate.  In 2014 the site went live and now five years later we’ve got over 250,000 brands that use the site. We are the first site online to put a price for retail to make it accessible so people can sign and pay online and we try to reduce that friction so there can be more entrepreneurs and there can be more people pursuing their ideas and you know I truly believe that entrepreneurship and bringing your idea, creating something out of nothing is one of the purest forms of human self-expression and that is something that at Appear Here we are trying to enable more people to be able to do.

Susan Freeman

So it must have been quite difficult at the beginning because you had an idea and it was very different from anything that had gone before and I think around the time we met you were starting a joint venture with Transport for London?

Ross Bailey

Yeah.

Susan Freeman

To put pop-ups into Old Street Station and it was just so amazing because you just come along with this idea and they were prepared to run with that so that must have been quite an important marker in the Appear Here journey.

Ross Bailey

Yeah look I can remember leaving the first meeting with Transport for London and as we, sorry arriving, and as we were arriving one of the big brokerage firms were leaving and I remember thinking, ‘who are they?’ and googling them and seeing that they had a market cap of billions and they had like 12 people leaving the meeting and we were like, ‘well what are they doing?’ and they said, ‘well they are pitching to take over Old Street’ and then there is me and 4 people which is the entire company that’s been running for a matter of months and we think you know, is this even going to happen.  But we went in and our idea was simple that we thought that it wasn’t about too much re-design of the building, it wasn’t about getting in the retail that had been everywhere else.  It was about doing it in a different way and often at Appear we have tried to think about when everyone says left, what does right look like and TFL has this saying which is ‘we want journeys not to be memorable’ and if you think about it Transport for London is doing everything so you don’t remember your journey because if your journey is memorable it means that the train was delayed, it means that you know, someone was a nightmare or you are late or it was too hot or so it is only really negative things and we thought what would it be like if we could make someone’s journey memorable.  What would it be like if every day when you got off the tube station there was something new, something different, something that surprised you and we thought that the best way to make Old Street really interesting was to give it to the ideas so to speak and what I loved about this tube station is where it sat.  So you’ve got… it’s got these four tunnels that exit and one tunnel exits on to Old Street Road towards Shoreditch and at the time around 2014/15 when we were doing this, the silicon roundabout was the sort of word they were using but this whole technology cluster was just forming and to put this into perspective I think in 2015, I am not 100% sure on these numbers but I think 2015 there was something like 150 million was invested into technology companies and last year it was either a billion or ten billion, I don’t fully remember but it was ridiculously more. So it shows you how much that’s evolved but at the time that was just happening so you had all these technology companies and then off of one of the tunnels it leads into the City so you’ve got all the… and people getting the tube that work in the City are like the young people that are you know, work in financials, you’ve got big disposable income and then you’ve got the tunnel that leads into Old Street but towards Clerkenwell and there you have got you know, Zaha Hadid’s architecture firm and all these amazing furniture designers and architecture practices and then you’ve got the other tunnel that leads again towards more design firms and technology.  So we thought hang on a minute this station sits right in between all these people that work in technology, design, finance – these sort of earlier adopters – and how can be bring the most innovative ideas to these sort of people because that is quite a powerful audience and that was very much the premise.  How do you open it up to ideas?  How do you make it about early adopters and they will be the type of people that want to see new fresh things every week and when we walked around the station we looked at the broom cupboard and we said ‘okay we want to turn that into a store’.  We looked at the old men’s toilets and said ‘we want this to be the coolest store here’ and fast forward a few years and we had 500 different stores launch in that one cheap station and I think we had 8 units.  We turned the old broom cupboard into a market stall that generated TFL you know, north of £150,000 a year. We took a men’s toilet which we kept all the tiles, we kept it rough and we turned it into a menswear store that got voted the coolest menswear store in the world and we had everyone from Jamie Oliver to Yoga classes to Jazz cafes opening up in that station to you know, tons of different brands that would go on to be funded by Dragon’s Den to chefs like Alex at 26 Grains who started off with a market stall selling porridge and now has a bestselling book and two restaurants.  So it really became this incubator for the ideas as well as having the audience that supported them.

Susan Freeman

And I think that really put Appear Here on the map didn’t it because people could actually see the idea in practice?

Ross Bailey

Yeah 100%.

Susan Freeman

So we are now six years, six years?

Ross Bailey

This will be our sixth year yeah.

Susan Freeman

Sixth year okay.  So just in terms of the numbers, how many stores did you open in London last year?

Ross Bailey

So in London we launch a store every three and a half hours.

Susan Freeman

And what sort of length of time do people take?

Ross Bailey

It honestly completely varies.  I think you know, our premise has always been that you should be able to access something for as long as you need it for.  You know, everyone says that retail is becoming media.  The purpose of the store is moving away from distributing product to distributing experiences but the one thing that media has in common no matter what medium you are using is that it is a variable cost, you pay as you go.  I use Google ad words, it’s rent right?  I have to pay for it every month but I could stop tomorrow.  The same with if you are a fashion brand and you advertise in Vogue.  So to answer your question, brands log on to Appear Here and they will rent a store from anything from a week to several months but many brands will also pay as they go.  So we’ve got brands that have been paying maybe for every three or four months but they have been in residence for two and a half years or three years and in any given month our longest duration is probably a five year booking but the majority are around the two to six month mark.

Susan Freeman

And in terms of where you are, obviously you started in London but you are now in the States, France… how is that going?  Is it very different in different markets?

Ross Bailey

Yeah it is really different, it’s different from a culture point of view, its different trying to be a leader and a manager in those Cities, it’s different from the ideas that you see.  It’s different form the make-up of ownership in real estate but yeah, we’ve got offices in London, Paris and New York and we are now in Miami, LA, Amsterdam, soon to be in Milan as well.

Susan Freeman

And as a UK start-up are there some particular challenges you face, for instance, in New York. I mean is that a plus or is it, or is it a minus?

Ross Bailey

I don’t know really.  I think that you know, being a… I think London is a really, I mean London is my favourite City in the world.  The more I travel the more I love London.  I think that London is also an amazing place for retail, like so much of retail and innovation around that has happened here and you know whether you look at Net-A-Porter or you look at Farfetch of you look at a lot of businesses that have really built phenomenal businesses in the fashion retail space, a lot of them have come out of London. You know New York is fantastic for director consumer and what you are seeing there as well so I think you know, London and New York are very much twin Cities, I think they are similar, I think there is a mutual respect.  I love New York, I spend about 50% of my time there but I am happy and proud that we sort of built this from London and I definitely think that London and New York understands fashion retail more than had we have come out of somewhere like San Francisco which I don’t think gets commerce in the same way.

Susan Freeman

And as you said, it is getting to be more about experiences not just selling things so looking at some of the experience orientated stores you have set up, have you any favourite ones?  I know there was, there was an interesting pet experiential pop-up which I think was probably in New York and not in London but there must be some quite interesting ideas?

Ross Bailey

Yeah you so many.  I think what is interesting about experiences, so there is the pure experience stuff where you see you know, we’ve had Netflix take over stores for different shows of theirs and create really amazing experiences and then there’s the simplicity of experience where you know if you walk into a shop and it is the person that made it, the person that created the product, talking about what they do – that really is an experience.  Or when I think about you know, a streetwear brand that we do a lot of stuff for called Rip and Dip from LA.  They have got a couple of million followers, they… it’s a young guy who’s a surfer who makes these t-shirts and every time he opens a store, his most recent time he opened up six stores consecutively or something with Appear Here in different Cities and each City had you know, the Amsterdam t-shirt and then the Paris t-shirt and you saw every day when the store opened on the Friday, it was only open for like the Saturday and the Sunday, you would see a thousand people queued outside and you would see people in the Amsterdam store in the queue with Paris t-shirts because they had been in Paris the weekend before and you would walk in to the shop and everyone working there is from their LA team and you’ve got like the guy with long blond hair who is like ‘hey dude’ as you walk in and you feel like you are suddenly in the middle of LA but yet it’s a grey day in Amsterdam and that’s an experience and I think that that’s part of why these guys aren’t queuing outside because they just want another t-shirt, they are queuing outside because they care about where the things made from, who it’s by, they want to buy direct to the consumer, they want to know the story but on top of that they want like this belonging, they want to be with other people like them and I think that in many ways what they are doing although those stores did do very well financially I think, what they are doing there is they are distributing this experience that is then going to drive their sales at potentially a later date.  Or you know, there is this amazing girl recently that works with us and she’s got a brand called Grain and Knot and she took, she quit her job in advertising and she had just been… no sorry she didn’t quit she was made redundant and she was really struggling and she decided to start going to a woodworking class, just like for her own wellbeing and she loved it and she then started carving spoons, I mean literally carving spoons and it is a funny story because she I like you know, carving spoons saved my life in a sense, like you know, it made me be grounded and everything else and she launched a store and you walk into this store and she is in there carving her spoons and different groups of people checking throughout the day and like have woodworking workshops and this store is incredible and I think that that’s an experience like, you can buy a chopping board or a wooden spoon from anywhere but why are people wanting to buy hers?  It’s because of what she represents and the story behind it and I think today we can all consume so much that the idea of just consumption I think is, is disappearing, I think people are less interested in it and it’s got to stop, right, for multiple reasons like what’s happening environmentally.  But humans have always wanted to trade from like the beginning when we would exchange stuff for other goods and services and it was the world of like bartering to around I think it was 800BC when the Agora was created in ancient Greece which was once the public square and then markets turned up and then buildings and people would trade spices and ivory and all these different things, and materials and that happened just as currency was invented so you could trade stuff for a reciprocal value and in many ways in that Agora which today translates to gathering place in English, that was where the modern day idea in some ways of like the store and the street and commerce was invented and then about 150  years ago you had the Department store as we know it today created by a guy called, I think it was John Watterman in the US, I think that was the name and what was amazing about this guy is he didn’t just develop the department store where for the first time in history you could go into a building and buy tons of products by tons of different people but he invented the idea of returns and the idea of the price tag which meant that for the first time if you were selling something you didn’t have to be in the same place as the buyer.  He in many ways invented distribution and for the last 150 years I don’t think we have really had any innovation, we’ve not really had much change.  Stores are built the same, they are stocked the same, they are managed the same, they are measured the same and I think since technology in the last ten years that we have really started to make it easier for people with e-commerce to sell globally, to level the playing field, to help people participate, I think that the idea of the store isn’t going to die, it is not binary but it does have to change and I think that we believe that that change will be that retail is the most powerful media, there’s probably the most measurable media we’ve got today, there’s just too much friction and what we are trying to do is reduce that friction and build the technology so we can manage it and measure it in a different way and I think that the purpose of the store going forward is that thing that I touched upon which is distribution of experience.  It is a long, long answer to your simple question but maybe.

Susan Freeman

No, no I think it is absolutely fascinating because actually talking about you know, why people got together for markets and you know, meeting places, they needed to do that because it was the only way they could transact.  That isn’t the case anymore so you’ve got to give people a reason to want to go to a retail store or department store, and it gets back to what you were saying about stories so you know for a lot of the retail we have now, it doesn’t have a purpose because people can actually buy online if they are not getting an experience or any…

Ross Bailey

Exactly.

Susan Freeman

…added extra.

Ross Bailey

And I think that in terms of experience it is like you know, I think people forget sometimes just how bad a lot of retail is right?  A lot of retail is just boring and it is starting to get exciting again and you know there was an amazing guy called Benedict Evans and he, every year at Appear Here we do a thing called a global gathering so we, I slightly digress, so we bring in amazing speakers and we fly in all of our teams from around the world and we do like a one day conference on the sort of macro of what’s going on in the world and our opening talk this year was a guy called Benedict Evans from, he’s from London but he has been in San Francisco for the last ten years, an incredible in many ways, fort leader and futurist and he was Andreessen Horowitz, one of the top sort of venture firms in the world and he came in and he was talking about where he lived in South London.  He sort of said ‘look the local butchers and the local bakery wasn’t like how it, when you think of a beautiful butchers today or a bakery’ he goes, ‘it was like really like naff bakery with like sort of where it smells really sickly and sweet and the butchers had like, was like a bit dirty and didn’t have particularly good cuts of meat’ he goes, ‘there wasn’t a single shop anywhere nearby that he could by something like olive oil and then Sainsbury came along and it had, it was beautiful and it well merchandised and it had olive oil and it had all of these amazing different produce from different places and it was incredible’.  He goes, ‘and in a way like the bad retail to be replaced by Sainsbury’ and then naturally it became more and more about convenience and at some point you know, I am sure we all agree retail died, got lost but it’s the same, I guess the point he was making was that the bad retail died and actually we are seeing this resurgence right now of butchers and book shops but they are amazingly well done and they have got people who make great choices and merchandise in an amazing way and it is not like the stuff that necessarily disappeared that’s coming back and it’s a bit like the idea that Amazon will never replace, it’s Gaunt Books isn’t it in you know, Amazon isn’t a competitor to Gaunt Books, it’s a competitor to the crap book shops where it was just about buying a book.  It isn’t about the speciality store which is beautifully done where you are going in for that experience and I think that what is exciting is that we are seeing more of that stuff happening you know, you are seeing a rise in independent book shops but they are great quality.

Susan Freeman

And that’s all, that’s all very positive.  So any thoughts on how much retail, how much bad retail we are going to lose?  So Chris Griggs, CEO of British Land said in the last couple of days that we could see 20% of retail disappearing. Other people I have spoken to said actually even more but does that sound, does that sound right to you?

Ross Bailey

I think that those guys are going to see that or more in terms of value disappearing from their retail.  In terms of retail disappearing, you know I am not so sure and I have been doing some research on this and I haven’t finished it yet and I am still looking into it but there is research out there that shows that the value of places that we want to be, so how much we enjoy a place and our sort of perception of wanting, of valuing a place and how much we want to live there you know, looking at the places where people most want to live.  What they are realising is that in those places there is a direct correlation to the number of store fronts.  So if you think about some of the most beautiful parts of town, whether it is Notting Hill or Marylebone or whether you look at parts of East London that are really up and coming right now around Hackney or Stoke Newington, there is independent High Streets with lots of small stores versus the places where people aren’t so keen.  So they are seeing a direct correlation between that and the same way of why some Cities are more popular than others, like New York for instance.  So I think that we need to give more people access.  I think if you reduce that friction, I don’t know does one person out of ten, two out of ten, three out of ten, four out of ten have their own idea of something they want to bring to life.  I think there is an argument to be made for any one of those numbers.  I think the idea that there aren’t enough people that want to create stuff is false.  I think it’s an access problem and it’s a value problem and then I think we have to understand if we don’t have that stuff, what is it replaced by.  Now the truth of the matter is, is if we are talking about retail in the way that some people are talking about retail – and I talk about retail differently – but if someone is saying retail is about shelves and product and how much you… how can you sell as quickly as possible and how do you distribute product then I agree we’ve got too much retail.  But if we talk about retail as space where audiences interact right because that’s the difference fundamentally when you go back to it in my mind, the difference between residential as residential real estate is where you live and commercial real estate in terms of office is where you work and industrial is where you are going to ship product.  Now what is retail, well frankly in my view retail is just the space where you interact with other people right?  Like that’s the difference.  Residential is private, works with your colleagues and then that’s, they are strangers and in many ways that means that to me, retail is space plus audience.  And if that is the case whether you are sure they will be part of products but I think there will be a whole host of other ideas that people use that space for.   If that makes sense?

Susan Freeman

So… it makes a lot of sense.  I am just wondering who are going to be the best people to actually manage this change and curation and everything that’s going to go into it.  I mean is it the real estate you know, companies or should we be looking at something different because I think you’ve made comment in the past that you know, retail used to be run by showman not accountants.  Have we got the right people deciding how you know, your definition of retail actually functions?

Ross Bailey

Well I think department stores were always run by showmen right, and I think that real estate when you look at all the people that started or built a lot of the big estates at the beginning, they were built off of plans that were about how do you create amazing places that people want to live.  So I think that as I said, I am still doing this research but I think from what I am seeing there is a direct correlation between retail and where people want to live and that comes across pretty strongly.  The second piece is I think that in order to make places where people want to live, Cities need to have an identity, streets need to have an identity, areas need to have an identity and the only way you have an identity is with diversity and diversity means difference right?  So if you have the same shops replicated in the same towns on the same streets, in the same Cities around the world, you lose identity and you don’t have diversity.  If you give more people access and there is you know, there’s different types of people and there’s different types of ideas and there’s some problem and there’s some not and there’s all these different things that we are talking about and there is some that are there for longer, some that’s changing and there’s things appearing and disappearing, what you are doing is you are bringing diversity at every level and I think diversity only gives us a richer more fulfilled culture and I think culture from day one has always come from our streets and it will continue to do so.

Susan Freeman

One of the problems is we have ended up with these cloned High Streets largely because if you own a chunk of real estate and it is retail you are going to going to go for the highest rent and the highest rents are paid by the chains so they will take you know, hundreds of stores so that perhaps we are going to get away from, from that?

Ross Bailey

Well in the end I think that if you believe that capitalism and making money is by producing value then I think that you have to believe that if you get that right it is reciprocal and my feeling is that you know, and what we are proving actually is in London when we give access to ideas and we let people rent them flexibly and you see that 80% of those ideas end up taking those spaces are independent.  What we are seeing now from our data is that we are able to generate up to 60%/70% more for a landlord than before.  Yet you are able to give more people access.  So we’ve got landlords that only use Appear Here and the metrics that they are getting is around 80% to 90% occupancy is 60% increases in rent with net returns after all their costs of 40% plus and what you are seeing there with those landlords is that because they are fully using the platform not only are they giving you more access for a short amount of time but we recently have created dynamic pricing so actually in February a space might be 80% cheaper than December which means that a tiny brand that can’t access it for the rest of the year suddenly gets access.  So you are making it better for the independents, you are making it better I believe for the street because you’ve got that space filled and it’s got diversity and difference and what we are no proving is we are making that better for the landlord.  So I truly think that if you go back to how are you creating value for people it will come back. I think if we just start you know, focus on covenance and the size of the retailer, I think what we are learning now is it is a new, it’s a new dawn so to speak, it’s a new time and that you know, those brands that we looked at five years ago or ten years ago that had amazing covenance you know I think you’d question if they still do today.  I mean you question how many of them are still going to be around in the next ten years and I think that we have to go back to the day one principle of what is retail and to me it’s about audience and you know what we are showing and what have seen recently more than ever before is that the audience is willing to move but there are… look at Fifth Avenue in New York right now, look at Maddison Avenue… huge vacancies, foot fall has drastically declined and look at Williamsburg or parts of Soho where it has increased.  Now look Soho has still got a huge amount of vacancy due to there being a price issue there but that’s why now the East Village is becoming more popular and foot fall is going up.  So I think that the point is the audience will move and what we’ve got to do and what owners have to do is to think about what am I doing that’s keeping this relevant to that audience because it is easier to move around than ever before and we’ve got more choice than ever before.

Susan Freeman

This is true.  I am just thinking, I am just thinking about business rates because one of the things that always gets sort of blamed by retails who don’t make it is the cost of actually taking space so in your model, who pays the business rates?

Ross Bailey

The business rates are still covered by you know, everything, we do an inclusive price that the brand pays which includes all rates and utilities and makes it really simple.  As I said there is parts of the year where the price is 80% down, overall it all balances out where the landlord’s making more but on most spaces but I think the problem I’ve got with business rates is that we have just got to level the playing field and I think that if we believe that retail isn’t just about distribution of product and it’s about all these other things and we believe that actually it is important for the way that our Cities run and where we want to live and all these different pieces, then you know in many ways if you are setting up an online business or if you are running out of an office or a studio then I think that you should be participating into that bucket more than you currently are and it should be more of an equal footing because those streets and those roads and all of those things we all benefit from but I think that the idea that that should be a burden on more on retail than anyone else, I think made sense when it was very big retailers, where it was about mass consumption and frankly you know they were the Amazons of our day.  All Amazon is is another version of Tesco or Walmart in the same way that Tesco and Walmart have own products, so does Amazon and they need to be participating the same way that Tesco or Walmart would have had to.

Susan Freeman

So there is a lot of rethinking that needs to, needs to…

Ross Bailey

Yeah and I by no means have the answer because I think whenever you… the difficulty I think with business rates and why I don’t think it has moved is you know, the moment you think about a solution that sounds viable, it is so easy to pick it apart on the other side that there is not a clear cut answer but I think that business rates should not be the levels they are and I think that it’s not a good thing and it is not going to be a good thing for the Councils or for anyone if we end up with tons of empty spaces right, I think that’s a bigger issue than the reduction that they will get in to the public coffers so to speak.

Susan Freeman

Anyway you have done a pretty amazing job of disrupting and changing the way people look at retail just in a few years.  We are running out of time so I think I need to mention that there is a third party in this interview.  Eddie the…

Ross Bailey

Puppy.

Susan Freeman

…puppy, the French, ten week old French, French bulldog who has been, I don’t know if she has moved.

Ross Bailey

So well behaved.

Susan Freeman

So well behaved just sitting here listening.  I think she’s bored so I think it is probably a good time, good time to finish so Ross thank you very much.  Thank you.

Ross Bailey

Cool, thanks Susan.

Susan Freeman

Well that was pretty amazing hearing from Ross Bailey on what is going on with retail, how it is all about stories and the resurgence of good retail which hopefully is on its way.  So that’s it for now.  I really hope you enjoyed today’s conversation please join us for the next PropertyShe podcast interview coming very shortly. 

The Propertyshe podcast is brought to you by Mishcon de Reya in association with the London Real Estate Forum and can be found at Mishcon.com/PropertyShe along with all our interviews and programme notes.  The podcasts are also available to download on your Apple podcast app the purple button on your iPhone and on Spotify and whatever podcast app you use and please do continue to let us have your feedback and comments and most importantly suggestions for future guests and of course you can continue to follow me on Twitter @Propertyshe for a very regular commentary on all things real estate, Prop Tech and the built environment.

Ross Bailey is the CEO & Founder of Appear Here, the leading online marketplace for short-term retail space. Based on the concept that renting retail space should be as easy as booking a hotel room, Appear Here’s mission is to create a world where anyone with an idea can find space to make it happen. Hailed a "Digital game changer for the high street" by The Guardian, Appear Here lists over 10,000 spaces across the UK, US and France.

With over 200,000 brands in its community, Appear Here works with everyone from Google, Chanel and Apple to start-ups including Daily Paper, Rip N Dip, Away and thousands more independents and creatives. Named as one of Wired’s ‘100 Hottest Start-Ups’, Appear Here has become the go-to destination to make innovative and creative  ideas happen.
Ross started his entrepreneurial journey aged just 16 when he attended the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy. Determined to launch his own business, Ross tested his different ideas by launching a string of successful pop-up shops in destinations across London, including the Rock & Rule pop up for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. It was from this experience, Ross’ vision for Appear Here was born.

Widely quoted on retail, e-commerce and technology, Ross has appeared in many publications including GQ, Monocle, Wired, and TechCrunch. Recognised for his achievements, Ross has been named one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business and British Airways’ 100 most influential Britons.

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