Celebrities Sadie Frost and Sam Taylor-Johnson (better known as Sam Taylor-Wood) are spearheading a campaign to prevent beauty chain Space NK opening a branch in Primrose Hill. They claim that their aim is to protect the independent retailers in the village and they hope their opposition will persuade Space NK to reconsider its plans.
Frost is an actress and a co-founder of fashion label FrostFrench. Taylor-Wood is a Turner Prize nominated artist probably best known for her video portrait of David Beckham and her “Crying Men” series featuring, among others, Dustin Hoffman and Paul Newman. More recently she has moved into filmmaking, directing the 2009 film Nowhere Boy based on the childhood of John Lennon.
The two women are regular clients at the independent salon Lost in Beauty and are among the 350 people who have so far signed a petition opposing the opening of Space NK in the district, fearing it will herald a flood of chains homogenising the high street.
Taylor-Wood said; “Primrose Hill is full of small businesses that give the area such a strong character,” while Frost describes how the independent shops in the village make it “unique and special.”
She continues; “If one chain arrives, others will follow. We need to protect these businesses and not let it turn into another big-chained high street. I would hate to see Lost in Beauty go.”
Primrose Hill residents have been here before. Eleven years ago they successfully fought proposals to open a branch of Starbucks on Regent’s Park Road. Today the commercial property at the centre of that battle is home to Primrose Hill Interiors. Phil Cowan, the owner of the business, launched the petition against Space NK and believes his own experience proves they can be successful again.
He said; “My shop was where Starbucks wanted to set up. I moved in shortly after they pulled out – so I’m proof that protests can change things.”
Similar protests in other areas also provide evidence of this. Residents and businesses in Totnes recently succeeded in persuading Costa Coffee not to open a branch in the Devon town, proving that big chains can be forced to take local opinion into account.
A spokeswoman for Space NK says that the company is “very much a neighbourhood retailer” and that local communities have to adapt to maintain healthy high streets. But she refused to go into detail about the company’s plans for a branch in Primrose Hill, saying that nothing has been confirmed at this stage.
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