Pop-up space startup hires Lend Lease global marketer and strategist as COO

Popup Brands brings together property space owners with brands and businesses looking to hire commercial space on a short-term basis

Noted business strategist and former global head of marketing and strategy for Lend Lease, Mark Gell, has become the first chief operations officer at Australian short-term commercial space startup, Popup Brands.

Gell has held a number of senior roles in Australian private and public organisations for the past 30 years, running strategy, policy and issue management teams for Telstra, Boral, TNT, the Premier of NSW, and Citibank.

He was also the global head of strategic marketing and communications at Lend Lease, as well as general manager of corporate development and sustainability at One Steel. Popup Brands co-founder and CMO, Pete Watman, said Gell’s appointment will help the business drive into new markets for short-term commercial space.

Popup Brands was established in Sydney in 2012 by Watman, a former advertising creative director, copywriter and marketing strategist, and his partner, Marianella Watman. The website-based business brings together commercial space owners with companies and individuals looking to hire such spaces on a short-term basis, from one day to the week or month.

Spaces on offer include shops and malls, offices, foyers and festival locations. Core users include brand managers, creative agencies, research companies, artists and retailers, while space owners on the platform include diversified property owner, GPT Group. The company has 1000 spaces to offer and more than 6000 brands on its books.

“Mark has an impressive CV including impeccable property credentials,” Pete Watman said in a statement. “He has run strategy, policy and issues management teams in government and some of Australia’s top 50 publicly listed corporations.

“Mark is also active in the startup community, so he understands the whole dynamic of doing big things with small budgets. He has been advising us from the start and having him officially in the business feels right. It’s a great validation of our business model and the market opportunity.”

Watman said Gell’s appointment reflected Popup Brands’ ambition to bring big and small brands together around new uses of property and spaces. He also flagged more news about the company’s presence in the “big end of town” in coming months.

“It’s not always an easy sell, no matter how obvious the benefits of short-term space leasing may be to us,” Watman added. “Mark is already helping us to bridge a cultural gap.”

Popup Brands has already founded a pop-up shop for Etsy, CakeWine’s winter pop-up bar as well as online stores, Live Fashion and Joe Button. The service is based on a purpose-built technology platform and marketplace for space owners and brands to meet online and negotiate arrangements for short-term bookings of vacant and underused retail commercial properties.

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