Brands new to UAe market can test out market sentiments and product reception through co-retail. And at prominent retail destinations, no less. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: First, there was co-working, then came co-living options and now there’s ‘co-retail’. Brands wanting to test out the UAE market through a retail presence can do so at a lower cost through shared spaces, a concept developed by Aldar-owned Cloud Spaces.

Specialising in co-working spaces, Cloud Spaces has launched ‘Ether’, which is all about co-retail. The aim is to support ‘local and international brands who are ‘ready to go retail’ and ‘own’ their own ideas, experiences, presence, space’.

The first such space is to open shortly at Yas Mall. Abu Dhabi, and could be expanded elsewhere in the UAE.

With a fully digitalised booking platform, local entrepreneurs can gain access to the booming Abu Dhabi market in seconds. Ether entirely takes away the stress and hassle of setting up a physical location.

A presence at Ether comes with ‘flexible’ contracts, with various services and facilities and requiring ‘no capital investments from retailers’. Available on one-, three-, six- and 12-month contracts, the spaces vary from 4 square metres to 56 square metres, and offer a choice of shelves, a ‘department’ or a ‘three-wall boutique’.

“Ether gives brands of all sizes a chance to turn their ideas into reality and put their products in front of a brand-new international audience,” it said in a statement.

Who’s Ether for?

New brands wanting to launch in the UAE but want to test out the market for consumer sentiments before they go full throttle with dedicated retail spaces. “The venue is the perfect experience for those who are hoping to discover unique brands that no one else with have,” said a statement from Ether. And not just pure-play retail-focussed products either.

The co-retail option can be made to work for ‘categories such as technology, fashion, home, art, lifestyle, NFT, beauty, accessories and food’, it added.

“Tenants benefit from 0 per cent capital costs and no extra expenses on staffing, utilities or stationery. Growing businesses can also make use of additional benefits such as logistical, operational and marketing infrastructures.”

At a time when retail rents have risen and there is sustained demand for space at malls from established brands, going co-retail does open up benefits for new/emerging brands. But having to focus only on rentals, a lot of the add-on expanses are removed, and being allowed flexible lease terms also counts as a plus.