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Share This Space plans to change Retail Distribution in Dubai
Video Interview with Shahzad Bhatti on how Share This Space plans to change Retail Distribution in Dubai
In a new retail world where everyone is expanding into digital territories, Share This Space goes against the trend by providing a flexible and affordable platform for brands to expand offline.
We sat down with Shahzad Bhatti at their HQ in Downtown Dubai to talk about how they plan to change the traditional and established retail distribution channel.
Upon entering their office located inside The Bureau Dubai, a co-working office space which is Shahzad’s first entrepreneurial venture in Dubai, visitors can really get a feel of the sharp energy and enthusiasm which is the heart of their entrepreneurial community. There is a flurry of activity of entrepreneurs getting down to business and creating ideas which we encountered on our trip where two members estatically rang a bell after closing and important deal followed by a round of applause throughout the office in support. A great sense of family came across at that point, at which we found the charismatic Shahzad Bhatti at the forefront.
Shahzad takes us to an adjacent office which will soon be home to the new Bureau Dubai extension. At the moment, it is being utilized as an inspiring raw space bathed in sunlight for a pop up cinema, art gallery and fashion showroom until construction commences. He explains that this space represents the essence of the Share This Space concept of using spaces in alternative, ingenious ways to engage people and share ideas.
Let’s start with your definition of what Share This Space is?
Share This Space is in an innovative new platform we have created to help brands sell their products or services in a unique and flexible way. We connect brands with established trendy venues whether it is a retail store, an art gallery or even a fitness centre, so that they can share their space on a short term basis, allowing brands to gain a physical presence in an increasingly online world. In turn, this helps venues increase their footfall from that brand’s online and offline followers.
How did you come up with the idea?
The idea came to me when we got the keys for the very office we are in right now. The Bureau Dubai was recently launched and we wanted to wait for the right time to launch the extension. So I tried to think of ways which would help us generate income from this beautiful, unused space in such a central location in Downtown Dubai. I also wanted to create a space which members of our community could use to grow their business. We started having small events here from workshops to movie nights which turned into our pop up cinema feature and one of our members, Knot Standard, used the space to give their clients a unique tailoring experience unlike any other in my opinion. We then used the space to support a talented artist, noavi, from Helsinki, Finland who wanted to create an exhibition on a budget and it became a pop-up art gallery. The response was great and it just spiraled from there and then we began to get a lot of fashion brands contacting us online to help them find ways to enter the Dubai retail market, at which point we sat down and really developed the idea and started work on the Share This Space platform.
How does it actually work?
We have a number of trendy venues listed on our website. Brands can come online, choose the venue which they feel suits their brand best and send a booking request. Once the venue confirms the booking request, the booking can be completed on the website. And then the fun part starts which is the actual sharing. There are two options for brands looking to share; they can either pay a flat sharing fee per booking (which could be as little as 1 hour up to 30 days and sometimes even more) or they can work on a revenue share model (an example would be where the brand could get 70% of the revenue and the venue would get 30%).
How do you plan on changing such an established model as Retail Distribution?
I don’t think we are changing it too much. We’re just updating it in this digital hungry world where consumers have a very short attention span, so you have to engage with them on a different level which I think is lacking in this region. At the core, we have the same models which have always been available before which are concession or consignment models. The difference is we that have created a platform which allows it to be available to an audience who is focused mostly online and are forgetting the physical connection that is valuable to every customer. For example, the touch of a fabric or the fit of your clothes cannot be guaranteed online. Brands currently using our new channel have actually found an increase in customer retention and loyalty because they have a proud, physical showcase of their products that is not limited to a remote, online presence.