Soapbox Competition: Last year’s winner on returning as a judge for 2024

13th March 2024 | Jack Oliver

As Completely Retail Marketplace has just launched the Soapbox | Landsec competition, we spoke to last year’s winner about his experience with the competition – and his return as a judge for 2024.

Chris Saville – who founded Gootopia with his wife Nishi in 2018 – won the competition last April. Soapbox sees many aspiring retailers pitch their businesses for the chance of winning rent-free retail space at a Landsec shopping destination.

Chris had not originally planned to enter Soapbox, instead only attending Completely Retail Marketplace as a delegate on the hunt for suitable store locations. He found out about the competition through an email campaign, and applied “on a whim”, he tells Completely Retail News.

He described the Soapbox application process as “very easy”:

“It wasn’t particularly arduous – it was a ‘sell your business in 200 words’ kind of thing.”

On his experience participating in the competition, Chris said that public speaking is not something he is “particularly fearful” of, however he was surprised by the scale of the event:

“I was surprised by the number of people there and how important lots of them were. Lots of movers and shakers in the retail world.”

Formerly Slime Planet, Gootopia runs workshops for children to make and play with their own slime. It also offers ‘Wine and Slime’ and ‘Slimefulness’ workshops for adults.

As winner of the 2023 competition, Gootopia was given the chance to open at Landsec’s Southside shopping centre in Wandsworth, free of charge, for four weeks.

completely retail marketplace soapbox competition

Gootopia at Southside Wandsworth

The pop-up store was such a success that Gootopia is still at Southside, and Chris says that the retailer is in the process of moving into a larger, permanent unit. Gootopia is also looking to open a Newcastle branch with the help of TV presenter Steph McGovern, who is a co-owner and investor of the company.

It doesn’t stop there for Gootopia, however, with the retailer looking at another two stores in London, and is also in the process of opening its first franchise in Malta within the next few months.

“We’re already going international!”, he said, “we get calls from Dubai or the Middle East every week, but we haven’t worked anything out yet.”

Chris returns to the Soapbox competition in 2024, this time as a judge, joining a panel of industry heavyweights to help decide this year’s winner.

“It’s funny to be in that position”, he says, “but it’s very exciting. We’ve learned a lot in the last year or so, so I look forward to being on the other side this time.”

Chris also offers some advice for this year’s contestants:

“If your brand has something that is different – put that at the top, make that your headline. That would be my biggest advice.

“In the changing world of retail, landlords and shopping centres are really thinking outside of the box. What else can they offer that’s going to be a different type of experience? It could be food, leisure, or something else.

“If you’ve got a point of difference, sing and dance about that and I think that that will make you shine.”

completely retail marketplace soapbox competition

Chris and wife Nishi (centre) alongside April 2023’s Soapbox judging panel

The application process for this year’s Completely Retail Marketplace Soapbox competition is now open, so if you’re a budding retailer interested in taking your business to new heights – why not get involved here.

For more info contact the Completely Retail Marketplace events team on:


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