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Manifesto Market, recently awarded the Retailer of the Year prize for Best Customer Experience, announced the closing of a growth equity investment from Rockaway. The investment group owned by Jakub Havrlant will acquire a minority equity stake in the company. Together with Martin Barry, they will focus on developing digital customer experience, and on growing the company into a global proptech and hospitality brand focusing on popup gastro and retail.
“I initiated Manifesto Market with the goal to create a highly curated experience focused on food and culture on unused land in the heart of Prague. We aim to provide a low cost of entry for independent retail and gastro entrepreneurs working next to experienced brands, and to do it in a creative environment. The public reaction has been beyond our expectations, and has brought me multiple offers locally and around the world to pursue new sites and collaborations. Our initial vision has expanded because I want to develop a space-as-a-service proptech company, to provide solutions in a rapidly changing retail and gastro environment,” Martin Barry, the Founder of Manifesto, explains the path to the investors.
For Rockaway, this is a strategic investment following up on its portfolio in e-commerce with overlaps into traditional retail, such as the network of e-shops Mall Group, Luxor book stores and online travel agency Invia. Jakub Havrlant’s group can leverage its experience from gastro thanks to the Storyous system that offers tech solutions to food and beverage business of all sizes. “We appreciate the vision of Manifesto, which brings innovation to offline business. This is a common denominator of all our investments. I am also glad that we can utilize our know-how from retail on the one hand, and from developing digital platforms on the other hand,” says Dušan Zábrodský, Investment Partner of Rockaway group. “With Manifesto we aim to become a globally recognized brand in pop-up retail and we are happy to partner up with Martin Barry and his team to turn this vision into reality in the upcoming years,” added Martin Konop, who will be actively involved in defining and implementing the strategy.
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Last year, 650 000 people – about one half of all Prague’s citizens – visited Manifesto, and another 4 million were reached on social media. In only six months, Manifesto – nominated for the Retailer of the Year, won the Best Customer Experience award. The “gastronomic paradise” was covered by The New York Times, Monocle Magazine and many other global media.
“The investment will allow us to build an experienced team to expand locally and internationally, and build the digital tools that will optimize the property operations and offer a pleasant interface for our community to improve their experience. This part is where we see a huge non-financial advantage of Rockaway, thanks to their experience and expert team from the online world. This partnership allows us to merge the physical and digital with a very unique experience,” Martin Barry added.
One of the first concrete steps for 2019, a second Manifesto is slated to open in Prague’s Smichov district. International expansion is being planned in parallel and the organisers are in advanced negotiations for a site in western Europe. In 2019, Manifesto will hire a new team and offer senior and junior job opportunities in management, digital technologies, marketing and architecture. Manifesto Na Florenci will reopen for its second season on March 15th and welcome a new eclectic selection of chefs and street food concepts.
Manifesto is a gastro and cultural market which transformed a former wasteland and no-go zone in the heart of Prague into a city’s vibrant place. Winner of the Retailer of the Year 2018 for Best Customer Experience, Manifesto is a temporary structure built by 27 containers and offers unique and high-quality gastronomic concepts from Prague’s white tablecloth and Michelin restaurants accessible at street food prices. Local design and artisanal products are also available and Manifesto offers daily free cultural program presenting top local DJs, live music, performances and classes. Manifesto is the first fully cashless place in the Czech Republic, thanks to a partnership with Mastercard. The project was made possible thanks to Penta Real Estate, the land owner, and the design brand mmcité. Manifesto has been initiated by Martin Barry, a landscape architect originally from New York, and his design-focused nonprofit organization reSITE which has a mission to improve the quality of life in the urbanized world.