In July 2016, Land Securities appointed digital trading platform StreetDots to manage the food and beverage offering at its Buchanan Galleries shopping centre in Glasgow.
The aim was to transform an unadventurous food court into a hive of activity - somewhere the community would go to socialise over great grub. The strategy paid off. Now, Taste Buchanan is packed with street-food vendors slinging tacos, brewing artisan coffee and chilling craft beer.
The project is StreetDots’ first in Scotland and fifth in the UK. Last year, it signed deals with Land Securities, TH Real Estate and British Land for four schemes in London.
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The company leases spaces - or ‘dots’ - from the landowners and then rents them temporarily to street-food vendors. The vendors rotate often - the vendors in Taste Buchanan, for example, change every three to four months - meaning consumers can sample a variety of constantly changing cuisines.
There are also upsides for the landlord. Land Securities mall retail manager John Bloomer says the initiative has significantly improved the performance of the 662,440 sq ft Buchanan Galleries.
“The project has helped build key performance measures for the centre, with growth in catering spend, conversion and centre sales since its launch,” he says.
There are eight traders at any one time at Taste Buchanan: four hot-food kiosks, a coffee kiosk, a bar and space for two retail carts. Among the current traders are Mexican food vendor Taco Mazama, coffee and cake joint Daizy Delicious, seafood specialist ShrimpWreck and Sunshine Kitchen, which offers homemade Asian food.
The traders are set for a refresh at the end of April and StreetDots will stick to its mantra of offering a stage for smaller companies.
The firm is capitalising on the growing appetite for street food in Scotland, says StreetDots co-founder Darren Callcott.
“The current street-food boom in Scotland creates the perfect opportunity for landlords to quickly transform and commercialise underused space with a street dot,” he argues.
The start-up is not happy with just one Scottish scheme.
It wants to get out into the rest of Glasgow and to Edinburgh and is focusing on creating outdoor areas similar to those it has set up at British Land’s Broadgate Circle, where it leases three pitches to traders who sign up on the firm’s app and rotate daily.
StreetDots is close to agreeing more projects like this north of the border, Callcott says.
“We’re in talks with private and public landlords in Glasgow, Edinburgh and other key Scottish cities to launch an outdoor network of street-food trading spots later this year.”
In short, don’t be surprised to see more dots springing up in a city near you soon.