From left to right: Reinhard Winiwarter, Publisher ACROSS Magazine, Dietmar Reindl, Immofinanz Group’s COO and member of the ACROSS Advisory Board, Sascha Neubert, International Sales Director at eyes + more and Klaus Striebich, Managing Director of RaRe Advise. Credit: Markus Wache

A successful premier

The event series “ACROSS Retail Talks” was recently launched in Vienna.

First-night jitters were definitely noticeable on Wednesday, September 18, 2019, at 6:30pm at Winebank Wien in the Austrian capital’s first district, when the “ACROSS Retail Talks” took place for the first time. The exclusive evening’s theme was “Cooperative or confrontational? – How to face today’s challenges in retail” to which Reinhard Winiwarter, Publisher of ACROSS, and Klaus Striebich, Managing Director of RaRE Advise (also see his commentary) , invited their guests. One of the main reasons for this event series is that the world keeps changing faster and faster as the customers’ requirements for the retail sector become increasingly more complex and sophisticated. Every detail that does not work can become a real problem, therefore collaborations with suppliers, service providers, or lessors need to be optimized. But how should and can one find a good solution that involves all parties concerned? This seems to be an unsolvable dilemma.

Dietmar Reindl, Immofinanz Group’s COO and member of the ACROSS Advisory Board, and Sascha Neubert, International Sales Director at eyes + more, took the stage and tackled explosive topics. It was basically a man (from the retail property/developer side) against man (from the retail side) showdown. These opposing sides on the stage were also deliberately reflected among the group of invited industry experts, who were retail property developers and operators as well as retailers.

Credit: Markus Wache

Relevant for frequency or not?

Klaus Striebich was the event’s presenter when Dietmar Reindl emphasized early on that retailers have client status at Immofinanz and therefore any confrontations are usually very short-lived. Cooperation is key in these situations, as the Austrian real estate group strives to be a long-term portfolio holder. Brands like “Vivo!” for malls as well as “Stop Shop” for retail parks were created with retailers in mind. They benefit from the level of trust that has already been established between these brands and consumers.

Sascha Neubert talked about the expansion of eyes + more. 43 new shops will open in Germany alone this year. The eyeglass chain stores benefit significantly from demographic developments. In his opinion, the situation is turning toward a tenant market, and operators treat opticians like eyes + more particularly well. Why? “Because our customers come to our stores twice–the second time to pick up their glasses–and we do not steal any customers from other retailers,” says Neubert.

Reindl questions eyes + more’s relevance for the frequency of other retailers, as this is always the key argument when lease agreements are negotiated. Especially the seeming turn towards a tenant market and the retailers’ call for ever cheaper leases sparked a heated discussion among the attending experts. “Do we see a kind of revanchism from retailers as a reaction to the former lessor market?”, “Do retailers and developers even understand each other’s business model?”, “How can the industry manage the balancing act of sustainably capturing the investment costs of developers and retailers in a fair and transparent way?”– these were just a few of the questions that were debated vigorously during that evening. In the end, terms like “fairness” and “transparency” were the ones that could bring both sides closer together in a more understanding way. However, the problem is that “We retailers simply do not know, what the world will look like in five years,” concluded some of evening’s attendees.

The next ACROSS Retail Talks will take place on November 12, 2019, in Cannes

After the discussion, the event series’ guests enjoyed hearty snacks and selected wines from the Reinhard Winiwarter Winery. Deichmann’s Alexander Chlumecky, kik‘s Stefan Forsbach, Supernova’s Markus Pinggera, CCC´s Gerald Zimmermann, and SES’s Hagop Hiesinger were among these first guests.

The discussion evening on September 18, 2019 was the launch event for the exclusive event series “ACROSS Retail Talks”. The next event will take place on November 12, 2019, in Cannes, when the industry will come together for this year’s Mapic. This event will also feature two people tackling a controversial issue, and the invited guests’ stances will also be split evenly between the two discussant’s opinions.

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