Appear Here connects brands looking for temporary space with landlords and makes leasing square footage easier. “We’re making retail space more affordable by getting rid of the legal fees,” said founder and chief executive officer Ross Bailey. “Appear Here is based on real-time demand. All of the costs are transparent.”
Appear Here, which is based in London, since launching in 2013 has raised $10 million in private equity from Balderton Capital, the U.K.’s biggest venture capital firm, Forward Investment Partners, MMC Ventures and Meyer Bergman.
Appear Here, which operates an office in Paris, today launches the service in New York.
The idea for Appear Here started with Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee five years ago. Bailey found a small storefront to rent on Carnaby Street and opened Rock and Rule, which sold fashion inspired by the Queen’s milestone. On the second day, 400 people queued up at the door, but a “cease and desist” phone call from Buckingham Palace forced Bailey to close the shop.
Bailey saw an opportunity for a streamlined and simplified method of leasing retail space. After studying online businesses such as Uber and Airbnb, he launched Appear Here in 2013. “All the shops on High Street are complaining about the Internet killing them,” he said.
Appear Here works with 80,000 brands, including Supreme, Topshop, Loewe and Givenchy, as well as “tiny guys just getting started. We always work directly with the landlord. There are so many inefficiencies related to retail leasing. We’re making it flexible for people who want short-term leases.”
The hardest part of launching Appear Here has been convincing property owners to work with the company. But with vacancy rates running as high as 30 percent along lower Fifth Avenue, and 30 percent in SoHo, many landlords are no longer holding out for permanent tenants.
“Landlords realize the industry is changing,” Bailey said. “We have nine out of the 10 largest landlords in the U.K. The greatest challenge is trying to obtain more space.”
A landlord dashboard on the site gives property owners data about the demand and financial performance of their properties. Appear Here earns between 10 percent and 15 percent on each deal. Real estate can usually be secured on the site in under six days. In March, 50 percent of bookings were completed within 48 hours. The industry average is three to six months. Rents range from $100 a day to $15,000 a day, depending on location. SoHo spaces average $1,500 a day and Fifth Avenue, $4,000.
Appear Here has signed Brookfield Properties, Simon Property Group and Thor Equities in the U.S., among others. Brands use Appear Here to test new markets or new products or take an online site into the off-line world.
Bailey said Appear Here found a London store that was one of 21 retail locations for Kanye West’s “Life of Pablo” merchandise. The locations were announced 24 hours before opening and were in operation for 24 hours. For cult French web site L’Exception, which sells Carven, MM6 Maison Margiela and Cacharel, Appear Here found a prime retail spot beneath the canopy of the Forum des Halles in Paris.
“It’s not just High Street shops, it’s also markets like Brooklyn Flea and warehouses like Mast Brothers Factory in Brooklyn,” Bailey said. “You can book a rooftop.” For London Fashion Week in September, Appear Here programmed Topshop’s temporary Showspace with 40 up-and-coming brands. Littlesmith, which designs personalized jewelry, was so successful, Topshop made it a permanent concession.
Bailey thinks out of the white box. For a shop for Ejder and 24 Hour Club, an old men’s toilet at the Old Street tube station in London was converted into selling space for the apparel and accessories brand. Appear Here opened a pop-up shop for Tate Modern in the same subway station.
Bailey expects to see brands migrating from London and Paris to New York. He said 30 percent of the European labels said they want to launch in New York. The most requested neighborhoods are SoHo NoLIta in Manhattan, and Greenpoint and Bushwick in Brooklyn.