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Client spotlight: Hubbub – saving the British high street

There is a steady stream of high street shops going out of business due to tough economic conditions and intense competition from the supermarkets. Yet demand for high quality, ethically sourced food is growing.

However, a large proportion of the customer base that sees the value in independent stores simply does not have the time to go from shop to shop collecting different ingredients to create the perfect meal. Or, with children in tow busy parents may find it easier and quicker to order an online delivery from one of the supermarkets.

Lack of time was the problem for Marisa Leaf, who never managed to get home whilst her local independent stores were still open. Working as a human rights barrister, she was keen to support her local economy but Marisa worked long hours and found herself faced with a limited choice between convenience stores or takeaways that were open when she finally headed home.

Talking to friends and colleagues, it was clear that there was plenty of demand for local high quality groceries, so Marisa looked into the supply side of the equation. Here it became apparent that the time, costs and expertise involved in setting up an online business, plus the logistics of order fulfilment and delivery, and the marketing and customer service involved were simply not financially viable for any individual store to take on. As a butcher said “If someone could act as an aggregator, then it might be viable….”. Thus the idea for Hubbub was born.

Hubbub is a home delivery service on a mission to save the high street.

Marisa quit her work as a barrister in 2008, took a part-time job for two days per week, learnt to drive and started a pilot scheme. This proved that the fundamental concept was sound and so she sought initial funding in 2009 which allowed her to take on a part-time driver and develop the business further.

She has since sought additional funding for growth and brought in external investors, with Robert Matthews of Keystone Law drawing up the investment documentation.

Hubbub currently delivers 4,000 products from 35 independent shops across 200 postcodes of London and is growing from strength to strength. Each area is served by its local shops and an order by 12.00 noon can be delivered the same day at no extra cost.

Marisa has ambitious plans to develop the concept further online (an app is currently in development), nationwide and then internationally.

The Hubbub team is now seven-strong, comprising two former chefs, a food anthropologist, a development economist, an engineer, a wannabe pop-up restaurateur, two developers and the dashing delivery drivers. As a means of incentivising the hard-working team, Marisa sought advice from Tom Daltry of the Keystone Law tax and share scheme team. He advised on a staff options scheme to ensure that staff can share in the rewards in the long term.

Asked if she has any tips for other budding entrepreneurs, Marisa advises “Just do it. Take the leap of faith. My own experience has been that people really do care about their high streets, and we are making a real difference to customers’ lives and shopkeepers’ livelihoods.”

See www.hubbub.co.uk for further information (or to place an order)!

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This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please note that the law may have changed since the date of this article.

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