London Sees New Business Boom

LONDON — In the midst of the chaos and complexity brought on by COVID-19 and Britain’s exit from the European Union, businesses have been cropping up and managing to find opportunity in London by embracing new models, thinking tech-first and shifting the focus to the sharing economy.

“London continues to be the European tech capital, and is the ideal city for us to operate in,” said Eshita Kabra-Davies, founder of the social renting app By Rotation.

By Rotation has continued to evolve throughout lockdown, with new features just released, a 370 percent spike in Instagram followers and users still renting up to five items a week during lockdown.

Brits’ consumption habits — they consume five times more clothing than their European neighbors, according to Kabra-Davies — and increasing awareness about the need to change them, means plenty of growth potential for By Rotation, which works on a no-inventory, peer-to-peer model.

“European and global expansion is a big part of our roadmap as we really see ourselves as the Depop or Airbnb of luxury fashion rental. We would keep local bases so Brexit would not have a direct impact on our business,” Kabra-Davies added.

Many young entrepreneurs have been making waves this year in London: Harper Concierge has been facilitating brands with new try-at-home tools and is now in the process of raising a new investment round; local start-up Heat has been pioneering a new “mystery box” retail model that has been seeing rapid sell-throughs; while re-commerce businesses like Sellier or Hardly Ever Worn It have also found themselves in rapid expansion mode.

Darren Hildrow, the former jewelry director at London agency Rainbowwave, also spoke of a 50 to 100 percent increase in jewelry brands’ own e-commerce sites and new opportunities for brands and retailers to do business online, which led to the launch of his b-to-b platform Nouvelle Box.

“In that regard the pandemic has also given birth to creativity. Stores and brands have become entrepreneurial in the way that they sell and business is being done in ways never imagined. As I see it, those who are nimble and can quickly adapt will thrive, whereas those who refuse change and stick to the old way of doing business will suffer,” Hildrow said.

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