South Africa's The Big Box Co. to bring retail & social innovation concept to UK for first time

05 March 2018

The Big Box Co., a South Africa-based retail property developer with a focus on social innovation and regeneration, has instructed Savills to secure its first sites in the UK. 

Created in Durban by CEO Murray Clarke, the concept is a new take on the conventional shopping centre model with modular small format stores run by entrepreneurs who receive funding, education and mentoring through The Big Box Co.’s non-profit Lightbox Project.  The first site, launched in Kwa Mashu near Durban in 2016, was created from upcycled shipping containers and is now home to 28 businesses including hair salons, clothing boutiques and cafes as well as an on site training centre.

In the UK, The Big Box Co. is seeking 60,000 sq ft to 100,000 sq ft (5,574 sq m to 9,290 sq m) freehold or long leasehold opportunities in major cities, including brownfield land and historic buildings with potential for regeneration.  The company will also consider joint venture opportunities and aims to have brand representation in the world’s top 50 innovative cities by 2025, with an initial focus on the UK, US and Asian markets. 

Murray Clarke, CEO of The Big Box Co., comments: “We want to create a global ecosystem that helps entrepreneurs build sustainable businesses and in doing so generate social impact in their local communities.  Each Big Box site is unique to the area it serves, but what they have in common is a creative spirit that fosters interaction between our ‘Boxpreneurs’ and the people who choose to shop and spend leisure time there.”

Sean Gillies, head of UK retail at Savills, adds: “The face of retail is changing.  It is clear that people of all ages, and perhaps millennials in particular, are drawn to experiences and a sense of connection.  The Big Box Co. approach perfectly encapsulates this and we believe they will be immensely popular with UK consumers.  Our focus now is on working with national anchors and strategic partners to ensure meticulous site selection, cutting edge design and a carefully curated tenant mix appropriate to each local area.”

Notes to editors:

For more information about The Big Box Co. visit


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Margaret Street


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Sean Gillies

Sean Gillies

Executive Director

Margaret Street

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