THE DIVERSITY of the retail property market is well illustrated by the range of businesses gathered in Cannes for MAPIC 2021. From international investment funds to leisure operators, from property managers to tech startups, all are looking to find new ways of working together in a fast-changing retail world.
Upbeat message on the future of retail
With London’s famous Battersea Power Station less than a year from reopening, head of leasing Sam Cotton is at MAPIC to showcase what will be on offer within the mixed-use building and with an upbeat message on the future of retail.
The power station is at the heart of a much wider redevelopment of the southwest London site, with several stages of development of its residential and convenience retail and leisure already complete and a new London Underground station recently opened. But the iconic power station will inevitably be the standout element of the wider urban regeneration.
Battersea Power Station Development Company recently revealed that Control Room B, built in the 1950s and featuring stainless-steel control panels arranged in an arc, is to become a trendy bar upon reopening. It also recently announced that brands such as Ray-Ban, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, The Kooples, Aēsop and Calvin Klein will be opening among over 100 shops, bars and restaurants, 254 apartments, office space as well as a leisure offering that will include the Chimney Lift Experience. There will also be a new six-acre riverfront that is open to the public.
The power station has been in development for a long time and I have been coming to MAPIC for six years to talk about how we are developing the scheme. Sam Cotton
“So it’s very exciting to be able to show people exactly what is going on within the space. We have been able to announce the brands, the look and also the office tenants.” Cotton said.
Going ‘Beyond Sustainability’
Sustainability has been at the core of VIA Outlets’ business expansion plans for some time, and now the designer outlet specialist has revealed plans to expand its successful ReLove concept next year, enabling tenants to demonstrate their own sustainability credentials.
The company is also looking to build on strengthening its retail, leisure and F&B mix, having signed 355 deals this year, including 135 with brands new to the VIA Outlets portfolio.
ReLove is a sustainable pop-up initiative that aims to provide shoppers with a sustainable, premium shopping experience. The first ReLove pop-up opened in Freeport Lisboa Fashion Outlet in September, and the second in Batavia Stad Amsterdam Fashion Outlet last month. The move is part of VIA Outlets’ wider ‘Beyond Sustainability’ strategy to “create a more positive and regenerative approach to outlet shopping”.
Eurofund targets UK centres
Physical retail is the focus for Madrid-based Eurofund, which is targeting UK retail destinations as retailers seek out new store opportunities. The investor and developer has established a three-person team in the UK to look for investment opportunities in major shopping centres.
Focused on places “where retailers want to be”, Eurofund Group president Ian Sandford said of the move: “While the strategy for many investors is to target malls which they can turn into something else, we are committed to acquiring shopping centres that will remain as shopping destinations, because we firmly believe in the prospects for those sites which combine the right product with the right location.”
If a visitor is only coming for a specific retailer, then the reasons for them to come could be challenged by online retail. – Eurofund Group president Ian Sandford
“However, if they are coming for the overall experience – and because they want to spend time with their friends and family – then you have something which the internet can’t challenge. So to me, that’s the Holy Grail for shopping centres right now.”
Harnessing the power of play
Playgrounds are becoming an integral part of the mix at shopping centres and outlet malls as operators look to increase the range of experiences on offer to visitors. According to US-based play giant PlayPower, both indoor and outdoor play facilities have been proven to increase dwell times and encourage repeat visits at shopping centres.
PlayPower is the world’s biggest supplier of playgrounds, delivering 30,000 installations per year. And the company is looking to step up its presence in the European market, according to business development manager Lars Nielsen. “Our indoor play business had been very US-focused but Europe’s now a priority, with a focus on the shopping centre market,” he said.
Nielsen said the playground market is evolving and becoming more sophisticated.
Themed playgrounds that bring storytelling to the mix is the new trend. This can be character-driven to create a point of difference. – Lars Nielsen, Business Development Manager
PlayPower recently completed a three-storey installation for NASA at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida that takes children on a journey through the solar system. And Nielsen predicted that shopping centre managers might adopt this approach so that their playgrounds become part of their corporate social responsibility agenda.
And discover other articles from MAPIC live coverage:
- Leisure, sustainability and phygital are day-one buzzword
- Outlet sector show growth despite the pandemic