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Inspired Series: Thinking outside the Box with Roger Wade

Roger Wade in Croydon

We heard Roger Wade, founder of Boxpark and fashion brand Boxfresh, speak with passion and enthusiasm about Croydon at the Develop Croydon Partner Meeting earlier this month and were delighted that he agreed to be interviewed for the Inspired Series.

Boxpark has had a significant impact on Shoreditch and now Croydon. What do you think is the key to its success?

First and foremost, we focus on the customer experience. We want our customers to come to Boxpark and be wowed! Our aim is to bring a world-class retail development to Croydon, bringing the best events and retailers under one roof!

What was it about Croydon that attracted you here?

I love a challenge! Everyone said to me why are you bringing Boxpark to Croydon. My reply was why not? Croydon is the largest London borough by population. East Croydon is one of the busiest stations in the UK with great connections to central London and Gatwick.  The previous food and drink offering was below par and we felt the local community deserved a better offer. We have been overwhelmed by the response of the local community and workforce to Boxpark. The reality is Croydon is a fantastic borough and the people were crying out for new exciting concepts.

Croydon is undergoing a massive change with a huge amount of regeneration going on, but some would say that it still lacks things to do. Can Boxpark be a catalyst for more entertainment spaces and what do you think others need to do to enjoy the success that you’ve had here?

New homes and commercial offices won’t regenerate Croydon by itself. New residents and commercial need a reason to come to Croydon beyond low rents and property prices. Part of our remit with Croydon Council and Schroders is to be the meanwhile partner and to help attract new businesses like the Body shop and the Inland Revenue to Croydon. Boxpark is just a small but important part in attracting these new businesses and residents and new major projects like the Whitgift redevelopment and Fairfield Halls will make a major impact in helping to regenerate the entire borough.

What has been the highlight of your career?

There have been many highlights of my career to date. Starting with building the Original British Streetwear brand, Boxfresh from a market stall to an International bestselling brand. Then moving on to creating the world’s first Pop Up Mall, Boxpark Shoreditch. But the highlight of my career to date has been building Boxpark Croydon because it’s the sum of all of the lessons I’ve learned over the past 30 years!

What’s next for Boxpark?

Onwards and upwards! We have already started on the design concept for the next Boxpark, hopefully building in London next year. We want to push the boundaries of retail development, and become the Apple of the retail development industry.

Do you have any tips for young, aspiring entrepreneurs?

Learn your trade before starting your own business. By that, I mean don’t rush in and just start a new business. Spend time to learn your industry and understand all aspects of making your business work. It only takes one weakness and the business will fail! And finally, you need to have lots of persistence. You need to keep getting up when you’re knocked down!

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