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Exclusive: Aberdeen’s first ‘box market’ made out of 30 shipping containers set to launch next summer

STAXX Aberdeen will bring a new, innovative concept to the city centre, with an opening date of late summer next year.

A trio of businessmen are hoping to bring Aberdeen’s first creative social market to the north-east, taking inspiration from some of the UK’s leading street food and social markets.

STAXX Aberdeen will be primarily built up of 30 repurposed former shipping containers and will showcase a variety of  independent businesses, including local street food and craft drinks vendors, fashion, art brands and more.

Shiprow in Aberdeen is the current proposed site for the project.

Artist’s impression of the rooftop terrace.

Designed to be a home for young start-up businesses, the concept is to grow firms for three to five years at the multi-levelled premises by leasing them a space at the market, to then progress their business to taking on a unit in areas such as Union Street.

It is based on markets such as Pop Brixton and Boxpark in London which are modern street food markets with pop-up retail malls.

Posted by Boxpark Shoreditch on Wednesday, 6 April 2016

The business owners hope to work with partners including Robert Gordon University’s Accelerator programme, business support firm Elevator and Opportunity North East which develops the private sector, to help position the market vendor’s firms for long-term growth.

Spearheaded by managing director Michael Robertson and communications director,  Dugbatey Teye, the duo has enlisted the help of David Griffiths, partner at eatery AVO, who has been appointed as the operations director.

Artists impression: STAXX Aberdeen.

Recent property graduates of Robert Gordon University, Michael and Dugbatey, who have also worked together on commercial property investments, have currently self-funded the project which was developed during lockdown.

The project is anticipated to cost from £400,000 to £1 million.

Having lived in London for a year in 2019, Michael has taken inspiration from similar markets in the capitol to bring his concept to the city.

Michael Robertson and David Griffiths hope to bring STAXX Aberdeen to the city late next summer.

He estimates around 30 repurposed containers will be used to bring the idea to life.

Michael said: “When I lived in London I would go to Pop Brixton and couldn’t figure out why Aberdeen didn’t have anything like it. I heard the Aberdeen Market was getting bulldozed and I started to speak to local businesses about it.

“There’s a real need for something like this in the city and 90% of the companies I have spoken to have signed up to be involved.

“I would like to develop it through property development finance if possible. We’re also looking into Crowdfunding which would allow the local community to get involved in this community project. We’d offer incentives and that sort of thing like other Crowdfunding campaigns. The main cost is primarily the build and it really depends on the quality of the materials – whether that’s new containers or repurposed ones that we use. We’d need around £400,000 to £1 million for the whole thing.”

How the rooftop terrace might look up close.

Currently looking for a plot of land to house the ambitious project, the team have their sights on various areas within the city centre and are “viewing a number of promising potential site options”.

Michael added: “We’ve been speaking with property development finance but we need the land as security. We’re looking at spaces where we’ll be able to fit in as many of the containers as we can as we want it to be a similar feel to other street food and social markets across the country. We’ve got a proposed site on Shiprow which is really exciting.

“Once people see the visuals and the vision they’ll be able to understand what we hope to achieve. This is a place you can go for breakfast, go shopping with your friends and meet up at night for street food and drinks.”

David’s expertise in organising ABZ Market, a monthly food and drink market within the recently-closed Aberdeen Market, was one of the reasons he was selected for the operations director role.

Artists impression: inside STAXX Aberdeen.

Helping local start-ups

Operating an application process, businesses interested in being part of the market will have to apply to ensure their brand ethos is in line with STAXX’s. David is also hopeful they will be able to launch a grant scheme to help small, local start-ups, too.

David said: “Businesses will submit their business plan to us and we’ll be able to determine if they are a good fit for STAXX and its community. We’ll then put them in touch with the Accelerator programme, Opportunity North East, Elevator, and those sorts of businesses who will then help grow and nourish them.

“We want to look at tying in a grant scheme which will help people start up their businesses. We’re hoping to collaborate with others to offer grants where possible.

Artists impression: one of the vendor lots.

“We need a commitment to a length of term via a deposit which will create a hub of businesses who are all getting access to this support system while growing a community. This will feed into our three to five year contracts. These shorter term contracts will probably naturally come to an end as businesses will realise they need more room, then they will look to areas like Union Street. This then allows new businesses to take their space in STAXX and begin the process again.

“The idea is that it will feed Union Street with local, independent businesses. The feedback we’ve had from Aberdeen City Council about the initial idea seems to have been really well received. It seems to tick all the boxes with everyone from local government, the traders, other businesses, too.”


Sustainability will also be a key focus with Origin, a plastic waste design firm which creates items out of recycled plastic, using waste products from vendors to create new items.

Michael said: “For any vendors selling food on a plastic dishes, Origin would then recycle this and make it into a phone case or a plant pot so it would be a zero waste circular economy. We will have a living wall on the front of the facade which rain water would feed the plans.

Artists impression: Rooftop terrace.

“We look to run it on clean energy, with a strong focus on being as close to zero waste as possible. All of the businesses chosen to be part of the community must be able to demonstrate their commitment to green business practices, too.”

STAXX Aberdeen will also host a range of events which will give local singers, bands, artists and entertainers the opportunity to showcase their talents.

“We also want to do heaps of events and will look to host them across the levels. It is for the people of Aberdeen, but we hope it becomes a major tourist attraction and something people actively seek out when visiting the city. There will be arts, fashion, culture and more,” said Michael.

“Everyone is sold on the dream, but it is the reality that we need to figure out. Practical things like how we get a keg of beer up a flight or two of stairs, and that sort of thing.

“We’re also going to be doing a lot of charity work through STAXX and will tie in with local charities and international ones, too.”

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