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Opinion

PERSONAL COMMENTARIES OF PLACEMAKING EXPERTS

“In terms of energy management, technological applications will become a critical success factor when it comes to using lighting, cooling, and air conditioning efficiently and in a customer-oriented way,” states Silvio W. Kirchmair, CEO of umdasch The Store Makers and Member of the ACROSS Advisory Board.

“We believe in making the most of unused and underutilized spaces, ensuring that they can benefit and strengthen the entire fabric of the estate”, states Otto Ambagtsheer, CEO of VIA Outlets and Member of the ACROSS Advisory Board.

“My recommendation is to seize any opportunity to take the next steps in digital evolution. For the placemaking industry, it is a transformation and not a situation where digital is outcompeting physical as many other industries have experienced”, states Peter Tonstad, CEO of Placewise Group and Member of the ACROSS Advisory Board.

“The opportunities lie in the direct and sensual engagement of the customers, guests, and visitors via multifunctional spaces which do not just serve one particular purpose, but moreover offer a colorful range of themes, topics, and experiences related to the brand itself or beyond,” states Jonathan A. Calverley, Head of Retail Leasing at Art-Invest Real Estate Management.

“The revitalization of shopping centers, retail parks, and our city centers will become increasingly important. For many locations and properties, new retail and mixed-use concepts offer significant potential for enhancement”, states Angelus Bernreuther, Head of Investor Relationship Management at Kaufland.

“The forecast calls, such as a crystal ball reading, for bold personas that are willing to set a clear strategy and implement it even through stormy waters”, states Denis Cupic, Managing Partner at Redserve and F.O./Group.

“The greatest opportunities we should focus on are those that provide an Educational, as well as an Experiential component to them. Both these “E’s” are the foundational pieces on which to build real value”, states Chris Igwe, Global Retail Expert and President of Chris Igwe International and member of the ACROSS Advisory Board.

As a center launched 20 years ago, Festival Place was originally designed for an era in which ‘big box’ retailers dominated. The demise of high street brands such as Debenhams and Topshop changed the landscape for retail landlords, while the breakneck pace of the e-commerce revolution and the subsequent impact of the Covid-19 pandemic have changed consumer behaviour irrevocably. The team behind Festival Place have responded with a renewed emphasis on the leisure offer, closer engagement with the local community and delivering a range of events and services that all serve to keep the center relevant and to drive continued footfall.

The prospect of getting a slice of UK retail is not without its risks, regardless of whether the bottom of the market has been hit in terms of shopping center investment. For many first-time buyers in this asset class, the time to focus on getting the basics right has come.

Retail real estate is facing tough times as we close in on the prospect of a long, cold winter. Amidst the impending energy and economic crisis and an escalating threat resulting from a war in Europe, for many, the fear is here. Investor insecurity is high, and property owners are wary of fuel and finances running into scarce supply. However, as we have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, where there is a challenge, there is also an opportunity.

As Festival Place is due to turn 20 later this year, now seems to be an opportune moment to reflect upon what defines it as a shopping center, a leisure destination, and a community amenity. Neil Churchill, Center Director of Festival Place, one of the UK’s Top 22 shopping centers, shares his view on the importance of community investment.

In times of unpredictability, marketing spending is usually the first candidate for budget cuts. Marketing management in the commercial real estate sector must be highly focussed on the issues that are fundamental to the business of property owners which directly contributes to increasing their value.

Racing after numbers, reading year-end reports, statistics and percentages: this chase is not but characterized by a kind of tunnel view, which limits the possibilities of growth. If you want to adapt, you need to consider every aspect of your target audience to keep on top of the changes in consumer behavior. Footfall is reflecting your detailed expertise, not producing it. What businesses need is direct connection to their customers: establish a relationship, explore needs and demands, and use the right tools to aid this pursuit.