Roger Wade, the founder of Boxpark, has announced he is to step down as chief executive of the business at the end of next month.
The decision to step back from the business he founded 10 years ago, with Boozepark at East Croydon opening in 2016 with the help of a £3million loan from the local Labour-run council, comes seven months after Wade flogged off his majority shareholding to a private equity firm, LDC.
In a statement posted on social media, Wade said, “After 10 years as CEO of Boxpark, I have decided to step down at end of May 2022.
“I sold my majority shares to LDC last year and will be handing over the reins to Simon Champion, [managing director], and Ben McLaughlin, [chief operating officer]. I will be staying on with the company as a Brand Consultant and [non-executive director].
“It’s been a great ride over the past 10 years but it’s time to jump off and explore new opportunities. I would like to thank everyone who has helped me on this incredible journey but most of all I would like to thank my wonderful team and family for their support.”
He concluded with a quote which sought to compare himself to a punch-drunk fictional boxer, Rocky Balboa.
Wade founded Boxpark Shoreditch, which is constructed of shipping containers, as the “world’s first pop-up mall” in 2010. Wade secured the multi-million-pound loan from Croydon Council to open a similar operation next to East Croydon Station, only for him to reveal at the announcement of the deal that the second iteration of his re-used shipping container venue would be for bars and restaurants, and not boutique fashion outlets.
Under council leader Tony Newman and CEO Jo Negrini, Boxpark continued to receive more than £150,000 per year in grants from Croydon for “festivals”, through until 2018, while the council and associated bodies, like Develop Croydon, regularly use the venue for conferences and events – despite the council owning a venue across the road, operated by conference organisers, at the Fairfield Halls.
Wade is stepping down at a time when the group is still expanding, with the launch of Boxhall, which will take over existing buildings rather than constructing a venue from scratch, in Bristol this summer. A second Boxhall will open in the former entrance to London Liverpool Street Station in 2023.
In 2019, Wade announced ambitious expansion plans, with 10 new sites planned by 2024.
The company also announced a Boxoffice concept, which would see co-working spaces incorporated into Boxpark locations. Last summer the group introduced dedicated workspaces into its Croydon and Wembley halls as an alternative to home working.
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