ACROSS: How did ACROSS come to be founded?
Reinhard Winiwarter: I have been part of the retail real estate industry since 1996 and have been lucky enough to get to know it from many angles – whether from the point of view of a center manager (yes, I started my professional career in that position) or as a location consultant or marketing manager. In any case, I noticed very early on that there was no specialized medium for the retail and retail real estate industry, even though the industry was extremely networked throughout Europe at that time. I wanted to close that gap, with the aim of making ACROSS an international platform covering all the topics that are relevant to the industry. From the very beginning, we wanted to offer a stage to the players in the retail real estate scene and to critically advance future topics.
ACROSS: Has that idea worked out?
Winiwarter: Completely. Every day, companies use our various platforms to display and discuss their topics. We have established a very close network around ACROSS. Our partnerships with the most important players in the industry are very strong. We have worked with many companies since ACROSS was founded, and many young industry participants, especially from the PropTech sector, have joined us over the years. At this point, I would like to express my gratitude to all of our partners for the constant exchange, the reliable cooperation, and the occasional criticism. The best example can be found in our ACROSS Advisory Board: We have really succeeded in representing the spectrum of the European retail real estate and placemaking industry. Every single board member is an internationally recognized expert in his or her field and an important source of ideas for our publication. In addition to pride, above all, I feel confidence when I look at our Board: If all of the members continue to contribute their ideas, impulses, and views in the future, I am sure that our publication will be able to make a valuable contribution to the further development of the industry.
ACROSS: How would you describe the further development of ACROSS in terms of content?
Winiwarter: First of all, over the years, we have proven our ability to tackle the major issues in the industry at an early stage – often before they were topics of concern at companies. Our magazine covers are proof of that (see page 20). Further development has been clearly demonstrated by our mottos. Fifteen years ago, I founded ACROSS with the “New Europe’s Shopping Centers” motto. The “New” was dropped in 2012 as ACROSS rapidly evolved from its original focus on Eastern Europe to a European medium. In 2014, the motto was changed to “The European Retail Real Estate Magazine”, and since mid-2020, ACROSS has been called “The European Placemaking Magazine”. That is precisely the message: Like each of our partners, we adapt to the respective industry environment and challenges to guarantee the continuation of what lies at our core – excellent industry reporting.
ACROSS: How is that reflected in ACROSS’ formats?
Winiwarter: In keeping with the times, we started out as a traditional print magazine. Over the years, we have built a very well-used website and have integrated various social media platforms into it. It was not until the end of 2022 that we put a major relaunch of our website in place and integrated important sections, such as our research section. The biggest lesson that we learned from the coronavirus pandemic was: The exchange of ideas must remain constant, regardless of the circumstances. Therefore, information channels need to be adapted quickly. During the pandemic, we developed two new formats – Retail Talks and Online Specials – which specifically focus on such immediate exchange, regardless of location or postal address. Both formats have become integral parts of our portfolio and are by no means just crisis solutions. We will continue to develop our existing channels and tackle new formats that facilitate communication and exchange within the industry. There are plenty of ideas.
ACROSS: Where does the retail real estate industry stand today? What does it depend on?
Winiwarter: I remain convinced that we work in one of the most exciting industries of all. That is especially due to the fact that we are so closely connected to everyone’s real lives. We, as members of the editorial team, never run out of topics – we never have. At present, the biggest topic revolves around ESG and the industry’s implementation of it. The second topic, which is equally as important as the first, is Placemaking and the associated task of developing future-proof concepts that keep stationary retail attractive. The third topic, which has become increasingly important, is people. We can only shape the transformation of the industry with good people. That applies to the sales floors as much as it does to the management floors.