People’s Champion Finalist: Podarok

The independent gift store succeeding on the high street is one of our People’s Champion contenders, here’s why…

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Founder: Andrey Pronin, 25
Started in: 2013
Based in: Cambridge and Oxford
Business description: Independent gift shop

podarok sign BLACKThe Podarok story:

Meaning ‘gift’ in Russian, Podarok connects shoppers to the wares of independent designers and artists.

Founder Andrey Pronin opened his first shop in Cambridge and brought in experienced retailer Amy Hawes to help her run the business after selling the tour company he started while studying Social and Political Sciences at Fitzwilliam College.

Having opened a second store in Oxford, the company has established itself as an award-winning business in Britain’s most historic university cities with over 100 suppliers. Pronin puts this down to Podarok’s dedication to “great customer service, an unequalled shopping experience and the provision of excellent products”.

The young entrepreneur says watching sales trends and seeking the opinions of Podarok’s customers has helped the business stay on the high street, matching some of the huge retailers it is up against.

Podarok actively seeks new artists and craftspeople to make products for its store and works closely with current suppliers to help them create new lines that are both artistic and commercially viable.

Though a physical store, Podarok has also embraced the digital age, selling online and utilising cloud technology to monitor and predict sales trends. An agile approach to pricing, profitability to effectively manage cashflow has helped the company produce a healthy set of financials with the prospect of growth to come.

According to Pronin this has ensured the business has “increased the overall margin by almost 5% in one year and become a successful business, with popularity, margins and profit improving year on year.”

Why Podarok made our 50:

The Cambridge start-up’s smart approach to retail trends supported by a digital backbone has led to Podarok generating strong revenue and profitability in a short time. The opening of a second store in Oxford demonstrates the company’s success to date.

Where to find out more about Podarok:



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