Championing Green on Stephen’s Green!

Aviva Life and Pensions Ireland DAC (Aviva) came on board Champion Green for the first time in August 2020, working to support small local businesses and start-ups, and to encourage consumer support for local producers and services providers.   The Champion Green initiative was created by Kilkenny Design, and is sponsored by Visa, with a view to helping thousands of small businesses across the country that form the backbone of the Irish economy.  Consumers, large organisations, financial institutions, administrators and State bodies all recognise the need to get behind smaller local brands and businesses, and to buy locally and use local services.

The property team at Aviva has committed to providing short-term, vacant retail space in prime locations to start-ups and local producers who are looking to establish a retail presence for their brand or business.

Award-winning Irish design brand, Jill & Gill was the first to be allocated a short-term licence for a pop-up shop in Dublin city centre.  Located at 5 St. Stephen's Green, at the junction of St. Stephens Green and Grafton Street, the 399 sq.m. retail unit allowed the design duo to showcase and sell their bold and colourful fashion and homeware collection.

Their hand-printed range of organic cotton t-shirts and sweaters in a fresh eclectic style has won the creative design duo, illustrator Jill Deering and printmaker Gillian Henderson, legions of fans.  Their fashion and prints collection were already stocked by Kilkenny Design and the new St. Stephen’s Green retail pop-up saw even more city centre shoppers able to browse the brand’s latest collection.

The short-term licence arrangements are a ‘win win’ for everyone; not least shoppers and the city centre retail community. We are enabling up-and-coming businesses to showcase their products in a physical and high-profile location which is expected to drive additional footfall to these locations.

Suzie Nolan, Head of Property Fund Management at Aviva

Suzie Nolan, Head of Property Fund Management at Aviva, said: In the case of Jill & Gill, we were delighted to provide a complimentary short-term licence on the property so that the business could explore the high street retail potential and extend its consumer reach.  Not only does this support local creative talent, but it also strengthens the city centre retail offering with new and exciting Irish brands as well.

The property fund will also benefit from this initiative as, having the shops occupied by interesting and attractive tenants such as Jill & Gill, will assist in promoting the currently vacant units to prospective new tenants. While the vacancy rate in the Fund is only 4%, it is made up of small units in well located properties that would be an ideal fit for the Champion Green initiative.

Pop Up Potential

The brand’s very own pop-up store on St. Stephen's Green is an incredible and exciting opportunity for our business. We are very grateful to Aviva and to all the organisations and consumers that have bought into Champion Green so wholeheartedly. We are delighted to bring our creative offering right into the heart of Dublin’s shopping district for visitors to enjoy.

Jill Deering of Jill & Gill

The fine art, fashion and design creatives already operate their studio on Francis Street in Dublin.  Opening a retail outlet was always an ambition for them, but the impact of Covid-19 on business had made that an unlikely prospect until Aviva joined forces with Champion Green.

Given the closure of non-essential retail outlets due to the outbreak of the pandemic, Aviva extended the short-term licence to Jill & Gill up to the end of June 2021.

Aviva is currently in discussion with Champion Green on another exciting retail opportunity for a small business and hope to make a further announcement on this shortly.

Jill & Gill tell their story

Award-winning Irish design brand, Jill & Gill is first to be allocated a short-term licence for a pop-up shop in Dublin city centre. Listen to their story below.

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Different shots of Stephens Green and of Jill & Gill design shop

00:00:11 Gill

I think going in to having a bricks and mortar store our total perception of the whole thing has changed, it needs to be a 50/50 balance, there’s just huge potential in this bricks and clicks kind of mentality

00:00:26 Jill

Ye for the online and the physical to somewhat pair the physical store is when you’re jumping into the online, so your kind of getting in the more tactile, the colours are more vibrant, so it is an extended version of what your online needs to be or is.

00:00:42 Gill

We’ve seen the potential in it, but we also see the potential in having the flagship store, like we’d love to be still doing pop-ups

00:00:52 Jill

Oh, ye the dream would be to be able to pop up here and there, whether it be in LA or Berlin, but you know, home base, head quarters, this shop will be in our dream scenario, would be just Ireland and just having one headquarters there.

00:01:05 Gill

Ye I think that’s always that kind of dream scenario, so it’s definitely kind of tipped over, to we can put the things in motion to make this happen.

00:01:15 Jill

And the potential of a building like NO.5 in St. Stephens Green like Aviva has some incredibly beautiful buildings and to be able to fit in to one of them, it just like before it even happened it seemed almost impossible and now having lived it, it’s very possible.

00:01:34 Gill

The one question obviously you have to ask yourself is, is this financially possible as well and I think when we’ve taken a step back there after doing the six months there and we look at the last 6 months of cashflow, we have the confidence to kind of, to take on a more permanent version of that, in the plan for the business going forward, where’s we would of never considered that, we were always a brand who considered the fringes of Dublin as to where we’d pop up not the high street, and that mentality alone is worth so much to the business going forward

00:02:16 Message on screen

Aviva Life & Pensions Ireland (Aviva) was delighted to support Champion Green and provide Jill & Gill with a six-month rent-free licence for the retails unit at No5 St Stephen’s Green, which is part of Aviva’s Irish Commercial Property Fund portfolio.

The property continues to be marked at an estimated rental value of €200,000 pr annum. Due to the ongoing lockdowns, Aviva has extended this licence agreement until June 2021 and the company is very pleased that this retail bricks and mortar premises has further boosted brand awareness and sales for this growing Irish business.

00:02:32 Message on screen

The hugely talented Jill & Gill partnership represents all that is so good about design innovation in Ireland, and our locally produced consumer offering. To create a unique high-quality product that consumers love and value is special, in a world where so much of wat we consume has become a basic homogenised commodity.

Champion Green works to support this local innovation and the unique makers and service providers that not only create wealth and sustain jobs, but who bring us the joy of amazing consumer experiences and authentic and individual lifestyle statements. It has been a thrill to see Jill & Gill broaden their horizons via their Champion Green retail pop-up that Aviva Ireland so generously backed.

00:02:52 Video ends