Boxpark Liverpool Boxpark p.planning docs

Boxpark first looked at the Cain's Brewery site in 2017. Credit: via planning documents

Boxpark Liverpool signals start of ambitious growth plan

Boxpark spoke to Place North West about its Liverpool odyssey, plans to open three sites a year for the foreseeable future, and being well-placed to weather hospitality’s economic storm.  

In September, the company announced that the Cain’s Brewery complex within Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle district would be the location of its first venue outside the capital. A decision that was many years in the making.  

“We looked at the site in 2017,” said Boxpark development director Matthew McMillan. “It wasn’t quite right [then] but we have come back to it now and it is the perfect spot.”  

The chance to make a statement building within the former canning hall, the heritage of the area, and the possibility of a new train station nearby all played into the decision to choose Cains Brewery, McMillan explained. 

“We tend to establish ourselves in very high footfall locations, so a station is always useful,” said Simon Champion, Boxpark’s chief executive.  

Champion led the management buyout of the business in September 2021, which saw founder Roger Wade sell his shares.  

This led to the investment of Lloyds Development Capital, which in turn paved the way for the ambitious plan to open three new sites a year from 2023.  

“When you have got serious investors, that enables us to borrow more money. I think them coming in is absolutely critical,” Champion said.  

Many hospitality companies are battening down the hatches ahead of 2023 amid apocalyptic predictions from experts. Boxpark, while not completely immune from market pressure, is not.   

While like-for-like sales are down around 15% across the board in the sector, Boxpark is defying the markets.  

“We are still double-digit figures above pre-Covid levels for like-for-like sales,” Champion said.  

“We have a very flexible cost base. It is definitely tough for everybody, but it’s much less tough for us.”  

Boxpark Liverpool Boxpark p.planning docs

LDC bought out Boxpark last year. Credit: via planning documents

Another reason for Boxpark to be cheerful can be seen when looking back at the Covid-ravaged year of 2020.  

The company was forced to shut its three London sites for 30 out of 52 weeks that year, yet managed to break even.  

Once the government gave the green light for hospitality to reopen, Boxpark wasted no time.  

“We were not one of those venues that tiptoed their way back to getting open,” said McMillan.  

“We opened our doors to make a statement that everyone should be, safely and securely, coming back into the city.  

“We’ve got that kind of mindset, that when things do get tough, we all come together and make it work.”  

Even taking into account Boxpark’s resilience and the deep pockets of its backers, the company’s plan to open three new venues annually from next year seems ambitious. 

Even more so when you consider it has opened three sites in the last 11 years since its debut venue in Shoreditch began trading in 2011.  

Champion disagrees.  

“We think that we are being quite conservative. Let’s face it, some big retailers open 20 sites a year.  

“I actually think we could accelerate it beyond three a year.”  

Boxpark Liverpool Boxpark p.planning docs

BDP is the architect on the scheme. Credit: via planning documents

The majority of Boxpark’s future sites are likely to be in or around the capital, but the company is keeping a close eye on the regions and expects at least one in three new venues to be outside London.  

One place Champion and McMillan considered for the first regional Boxpark was Manchester.   

The city has long been the next natural progression for London-established hospitality ventures but anyone hoping to see a Boxpark in the city anytime soon may be disappointed.  

“We don’t want to be like everyone else and go to Manchester,” Champion said.   

“I don’t think we’re nervous of anybody in any other cities and we’re not arrogant in any way. I think we just want the thing we do something slightly different from everybody else. 

“We are very picky. we want to be iconic.” 

Your Comments

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Yes! Liverpool will benefit massively from this. Thank you Box park for choosing Liverpool

By David

“We don’t want to be like everyone else and go to Manchester”, might be something to do with the fact they wouldn’t stand a chance against some great locally owned or already established food-hall led venues such as Mackie Mayor, Escape to Freight Island, Hatch, New Century and Society.

By New Wave

“We want to be iconic”. They’ve certainly picked the most iconic city for this, and will be a huge success.

By Geoff

Manchester has a great offering but pleased Boxpark is coming to Liverpool, and will raise the profile of the Baltic even more.

By Anonymous

Agreed, way too much competition in London and Manchester. They need somewhere quieter to try and get a foothold. Hull or Newcastle would probably work as well.

By Anonymous

Outside the weekends, the Cains Brewery complex is fairly quiet. And the new Baltic Triangle Station has no start or completion date yet.
This is in contrast to Boxpark near heavy footfall East Croydon Station. Boxpark’s jnvestment is good news for Liverpool but the company will need to work hard on this location.

By Anonymous

Cains Village will benefit even more when Parliament Square is fully occupied, and when One Baltic Square is up and running, nevertheless more residential is required in the Baltic to complement the business, bars, restaurants, etc present or thinking of setting up, I think Utility will be opening in 2023.

By Anonymous

Stockport would be a good place for one of these.

By Elephant

Preston would make for a great fit for a Boxpark.


Good to see the Baltic /\ expanding it’s range of attractions it has come a long way since we first opened our offices there.

By Liverpolitis

Well outside of London it came to Liverpool , Liverpool is an amazing vibrant city with a unique buzz , Liverpool is organic fresh and buzzing with talent it has everything and great outdoors beaches ,Parks there is plenty to do there i say onwards and upwards for this great city into 2023, Liverpool is the place and the best city in the world like Perth in Australia as they say it’s the best kept secret.

By Anonymous

Shall we try not to mention Mcr n at last one Lpool story

By Eric

Not sure if this is a good idea, the area is already stuffed with bars and restaurants. Far too many empty residential properties in this area too. I hope if this scheme does goes ahead, it is better than the ex-industrial, barely decorated, poorly maintained, old school table and chair over priced venues currently offered.

By Stephen Blenkinsop

@ Dec 24 2.19pm, have you ever been to Lu Ban, or Manifest? both classy venues in the Baltic or Cains Village.
Anyway old chairs , tables etc, do you not understand shabby chic?

By Anonymous

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