71. Sook

Sook is breathing life back into UK high streets with its digital retrofit solution that’s powering flexible pop-up retail spaces.

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Sook shuts up shop in 2024

Sook ceased operations on December 31st 2023, two months after the 2024 Startups 100 Index campaign was finalised. The closure coincides with a significant decline in venture capital funding in 2023, which impacted many businesses in various sectors. One report by Atomico found that VC funding in the UK fell by 54% year-on-year.

Sook made some incredible strides under John Hoyle's leadership – even weeks before its closure announcement. During this period, the team secured notable partnerships, including one with the global fashion marketplace Depop, and established a new franchise at the Mall of Africa in South Africa.

In today's unpredictable trading landscape there is no shame in having to admit defeat. Navigating the current business environment presents significant challenges, and Sook's closure underscores the realities that even strong concepts can be affected by external circumstances. For many entrepreneurs, failure can be the springboard to later, greater success, and we have no doubt that John will be back with another bold and brilliant idea to achieve his goal of revitalising the UK high street.

Founder: John Hoyle
Founded: 2019
Website: sook.space

Sook is tackling sky-high business rental costs, the high-street’s lockdown footfall losses, and a resurgence of shoppers wanting special, in-store experiences in one Sook-style swoop.

At first, the London-based startup’s model sounds simple. It offers short-term rental leases in a physical store, so that online retailers can attract new business via an omnichannel approach. 

But unlike the characterless, plain-walled stores of many flash retail locations, Sook furnishes all of its locations with a complete digital fit-out, supplying retailers with a customisable backdrop that ensures their pop-up store doesn't feel like a one-stop shop.

Sook is tackling sky-high business rental costs, the high-street’s lockdown footfall losses, and a resurgence of shoppers wanting special, in-store experiences.

John Hoyle founded the company in 2019, after he sensed an opportunity to reduce the negative impact of the UK high street losses. 

Emerging retail trends suggest that 32% of consumers are now more interested in experiential in-store shopping than online Amazon scrolling, putting Sook in an excellent position to help ecommerce businesses stay on-top of changing consumer demand and drive new footfall in 2023.

And, with same-day bookings, spaces in prime locations, and 3D technology that lets you visualise the layout of your shop, Sook is a real swiss knife for today’s businesses, providing an arsenal of tools for retailers.

Sook is in an excellent position to help ecommerce businesses stay on-top of changing consumer demand and drive new footfall in 2023.

Sook stands out from the business crowd by providing short term rental leases for landlords, lowering the barriers to entry for shop owners to get their hands on prime retail space. 

The company will be opening the pearly digital gates to its twelfth site at the beginning of 2023, in Islington Square. But Hoyle is looking further afield, with aims to have a Sook space in every major town across the UK over the next few years. Coming to a store near you, it's our top 100 startup, Sook!

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