Championing Green on Stephen’s Green!

August 2020, Dublin: Aviva Life and Pensions Ireland DAC are the latest corporate to come on board Champion Green, working to support small local businesses and start-ups, and to encourage consumer support for local producers and services providers.

The property team at Aviva have committed to providing short-term, vacant retail space in prime locations to start-ups and local producers who are looking to establish a retail presence for their brand or business.

Award-winning Irish design brand, Jill & Gill is first to be allocated a short-term licence for a pop-up shop in Dublin city centre. Located at 5 St. Stephen’s Green, at the junction of St. Stephens Green and Grafton Street, the 399 sq.m. retail unit will allow the design duo to showcase and sell their bold and colourful fashion and homeware collection.

Their hand-printed range of organic cotton t-shirts and sweaters in a fresh eclectic style has won the creative design duo, illustrator Jill Deering and printmaker Gillian Henderson, legions of fans. Their fashion and prints collection are already stocked by Kilkenny Design and the new St. Stephen’s Green retail pop-up will see even more city centre shoppers able to browse the brand’s latest collection.

Suzie Nolan, Head of Property Fund Management at Aviva, said: “The short-term licence arrangements are a ‘win win’ for everyone; not least shoppers and the city centre retail community. We are enabling up-and-coming businesses to showcase their products in a physical and high-profile location which is expected to drive additional footfall to these locations.

“In the case of Jill & Gill, we are delighted to provide a complimentary short-term licence on the property so that the business can explore the high street retail potential and extend its consumer reach. Not only does this support local creative talent, but it also strengthens the city centre retail offering with new and exciting Irish brands as well.

“The property fund will also benefit from this initiative as, having the shops occupied by interesting and attractive tenants such as Jill & Gill, will assist in promoting the currently vacant units to prospective new tenants. While the vacancy rate in the Fund is only 4%, it is made up of small units in well located properties that would be an ideal fit for the Champion Green initiative.”

Pop Up Potential

Jill Deering of Jill & Gill said: “The brand’s very own pop-up store on St. Stephen’s Green is an incredible and exciting opportunity for our business. We are very grateful to Aviva and to all the organisations and consumers that have bought into Champion Green so wholeheartedly. We are delighted to bring our creative offering right into the heart of Dublin’s shopping district for visitors to enjoy.

The fine art, fashion and design creatives already operate their studio on Francis Street in Dublin. Opening a retail outlet was always an ambition for them, but the impact of Covid-19 on business had made that an unlikely prospect until Aviva joined forces with Champion Green.

“To have this chance for people to see what a small Irish business can do excites us so much”, Gillian Henderson said. “We want to showcase our skills and passion for modern, handmade Irish products. Through this store we can give a sense of the value and satisfaction of investing in local design that is meaningful and impactful and created with passion”.

BNP Paribas Real Estate is another corporate entity that is supporting Champion Green. Deputy Managing Director and Head of Retail Eoin Feeney said: “A vacant commercial property can be put to good use and provide SMEs in the Champion Green programme with invaluable support. These companies are helping start-up businesses out, supporting economic recovery following the outbreak of Covid-19 and, in this case, encouraging people back into the city centre to shop”.

The Champion Green initiative was created by Kilkenny Design, and is sponsored by Visa, in an effort to help thousands of small businesses across the country that form the backbone of the Irish economy.

Consumers, large organisations, financial institutions, administrators and State bodies all recognise the need to get behind smaller local brands and businesses, and to buy locally and use local services. “This is about jobs and national prosperity”, said Marian O’Gorman, Kilkenny Design CEO.

“Without the small businesses, bigger businesses risk losing their customer base. And so, other corporates, large businesses and organisations need to up their support for local traders and identify practical means to support them as we move towards recovery”, the business leader added.