AN EMPTY warehouse near Southampton’s docks will soon be home to the world’s first boutique shipping container shopping centre.
As part of the ambitious plans, the derelict site in Millbrook will be transformed into an indoor market featuring boutique fashion outlets, spas, street-food eateries and even a champagne bar.
The team behind the Boutique Box Warehouse say it will open this summer, and as well as providing a home for more than 100 businesses will create 50 new jobs.
Entrepreneurs Pascal Molliere and Adrian Williams will use more than 100 shipping containers to house dozens of new shops and food stalls within the warehouse.
The 20,000sq ft warehouse in Third Avenue used to be a Fiat car production facility but has been empty for several years.
Now however, it is set for a fresh lease of life with Mr Molliere saying it will house up to 110 new shops and outlets when it opens in July.
The different outlets, which could include retro and boutique fashion stores, leather goods, spas, toy manufacturers and a host of other businesses, will all be housed within the metal containers previously used to transport goods in and out of the city’s docks.
Mr Molliere says there are plans to expand the shopping centre into a second level, with a metal walkway, above the ground level that could feature another 40 outlets.
It will be open seven-days a week until late into the evening and there will also be an online ordering service where goods from the businesses can be shipped worldwide.
Mr Molliere says the duo, who are trading as Macerich UK Ltd, wanted to use a warehouse as rent would be cheaper for businesses there than on the high street.
And he says it will be a good use for the surplus of shipping containers building up in Southampton and elsewhere in the country.
He said: “One in every four containers that arrives full at our ports, remains on our shore and the problem is increasing.
“We wanted to come up with a scheme that tackles this as well as giving a unique and cost-effective opportunity for people to trade as rents and rates are still very unaffordable for start-up businesses.
“We would like to support anyone who has a passion to reduce our carbon footprint and develop our own British talent for quality and innovation.
“This has never been done before, it’s a world first because there have been a couple of outdoor markets, but never anything like this with the luxury of a roof.”