IT was planned before Covid-19, but Poole’s latest retail development might point to the future of shops after the pandemic.

Kingland – the new name for the parade of shops at Kingland Crescent – consists of 10 shops with hand-picked tenants who will trade without rent or rates for two years.

Those businesses include a surfboard and repair shop with cafe, a coffee shop with on-site roasting, an art gallery, a seller of mid-century modern restored furniture, a retailer of plants and interiors, a zero-waste grocery store and a fishmonger. They have been “curated” by a Dorset-based creative director, Hollie Newton.

There will be a market and a programme of events, eventually reaching 1,000 per year.

It is part of an ambitious approach that links Kingland with the neighbouring Dolphin Shopping Centre. The belief is that national brands increasingly want to be part of developments that encourage creative, local enterprises and draw in customers from across the generations.

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The "zero waste" grocery store Ten Foot Naked at Kingland

Eight of those shops were ready to trade with the reopening of essential retail across England, with the other two due to follow by the end of April.

First boutique shops to open at Poole's revamped Kingland

Denz Ibrahim, head of retail and “futuring” for landlord Legal and General Investment Management (LGIM) Real Assets, said he was hired to help “completely re-think how we do retail, completely reimagine anything that touches a consumer across our portfolio”.

He is an urban designer by background and brought a fresh team with him.

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“I visited Poole as one of my first site visits when I joined L&G and I immediately walked around and just thought there is a massive amount of opportunity here, not only because of the variety of demographics of people in the area but there was a huge amount of space you could do some interesting stuff to,” he said.

“Kingland was this quite tired street which attached itself to the Dolphin Centre,” he said.

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There was, as he points out “quite a bit of vacancy”. Argos had closed, Costa had moved to Falkland Square, and other sizeable units were standing empty.

Seating plan for Poole's Kingland Crescent

“After talking to a lot of people in the area, there was an evident lack of space or a home for the creative community in Dorset. So we felt there was a real opportunity here to turn Kingland Crescent – drop the 'Crescent’, call it Kingland – and make it an amazing environment, platform for creating entrepreneurs,” he said.

“We had 10 shops initially. We’ve filled 10 shops end-to-end completely, curated by a local team, so it’s not done by me and my team up in London, it’s done by a completely hand-picked team in Dorset who live and breathe the area, live and breathe that network of people and those businesses.

“It’s a row of 10 shops, given for free for two years by us to 10 hand-picked entrepreneurs, independent business across retail, anywhere from fishmongers to coffee roasters to coffee shops to a surfboard shop to a gin bar and a fragrance bar.

New art gallery is coming to Poole this year

"So there’s a real array of different retailers and that sits as part of a much bigger strategy which is all about bringing much more local independent businesses within the centre but most importantly they have to sit with the national brands.”

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House plants and interiors shop Wild Roots at Kingland

Rightly or wrongly, traders in many town centres will complain that they are just another item on a spreadsheet for the big landlords, who would rather have shops standing empty than reduce the value of their assets by accepting lower rents.

Kingland is part of a more active strategy for L&G. “Our approach here is that we really believe there’s a shift in the role of the landlord,” said Mr Ibrahim.

“I talk about this notion of moving from librarian to editor. The idea that the old landlord was the librarian they collected rent, filled shops and cleaned spaces. That’s a given, of course we do that, but we have to shift from doing that to also becoming the editor.

"The editor is much more in control of the content – content meaning all the different things that fill our spaces, so that could be retail but it could be all the other stuff as well.”

The latest retailer to open at Poole's Kingland district

There will be more of a service culture, with customer service “hosts” at Kingland and the Dolphin centre.

Kingland may not be one of the prettiest places in Poole – though Mr Ibrahim admits that “I actually tend to quite like brutalist architecture" – but he says that can be overcome.

“When I feel there’s opportunity, it’s really not to do with the cosmetics,” he said.

Five new retailers set to open in Poole as lockdown eases

“You feel a vibe and you feel an amount of passion in a place. When we met the creative director that we hired to do the Kingland place and the design agencies and the people who do all the artwork and the shopping centre manager and they connected us to all their friends, it felt like there was an amazing appetite and energy to do something here.

“I felt it was the social component. that was where I got the energy from. It wasn’t really the spatial piece. because the spatial piece you can start to sort out.”

He hopes the new shops will appeal across the generations, tapping into the “amazing amount of creative talent” among the students of Bournemouth’s universities. “We had a real combination of the grey pound, families, young entrepreneurs, we had quite interesting demographics, and also we had a massive student piece that we weren’t tapping into,” he said.

One aspect of the L&G’s plans that has not yet come to fruition is an Empire cinema in the former Argos building, work on which was due to start in 2018.

Empire Cinemas to operate new nine-screen cinema complex at Dolphin Shopping Centre

Mr Ibrahim said he could not comment other than to say: “We’re in discussions with the council a lot. We’ve taken them through this whole journey that we’re trying to do. There is evidently a real scope to do something here but we have to take this in stages and everything I’ve spoken about today is happening now.

“It’s about a legacy: How do you begin to remould the everyday, the touch points that we see and feel every day in order to think about what the next five to 10 years look like? What else do we need as a town? As a community?

"We’re in discussions with the council a lot, looking at lots of different opportunities and as you can probably see from the momentum we’re building with a lot of this other stuff, there are a lot of exciting things about to happen we believe if we can get it right.”

He believes Kingland could be ideally placed as retail reopens. “When the first lockdown happened, I was thinking when people come back there’s going to be this kind of refresh button pressed, where people want to come back and re-engage and it’s our role to make sure they come back to something extremely wow,” he said.

“We can’t let them come back to that same old same old. They’ll get very quickly bored again.”


  • HUX Custom Surfboards and Café – A custom surfboard and repair shop with cafe • Grounded Coffee – A coffee shop with an on-site roaster
  • PEN Gallery – A contemporary art gallery with additional store space for a curated mix of local artists and makers
  • Restored Retro – A mid-century modern restored furniture shop
  • Wild Roots – Houseplants and interiors specialists
  • Paintshop Studio – A creative design studio
  • Ten Foot Naked – A zero waste grocery store
  • Greenslade Fishmonger – Local family business
  • ånd Fragrance – A flagship store for perfumer Simon Constantine, previously of Lush.


  • Viper Gin – A gin bar and shop