Jonathan Doughty has recently become Head of Foodservice at ECE. In this position he is also responsible for the company’s leisure sector as well as placemaking. Image: ECE
Opinion

CREATING GREAT PLACES IN THE “TIME ECONOMY”

“I have always said large parts of the foodservice industry are actually leisure, now we are proving it every day.”

By Jonathan Doughty

We all know that retail is changing. The consumers are changing their purchasing patterns, the market is being disrupted by online and delivery and nobody is quite sure where it will all end.

At ECE we are working really hard to adapt and change to match and exceed our guests’ requirements. We are expanding the scope of our leasing activities in the non-retail sector to put additional focus on leisure and entertainment concepts to further strengthen our placemaking. We will also repurpose some of our spaces to deliver better and more interesting food and beverage options and, depending on the location, some leisure facilities.

I call this the “Time Economy”. I firmly believe the guest can spend two things, TIME and MONEY. The traditional world of retail for too many years focused on the money spend, making efficient shopping places that got people what they want, gave them a great retail assortment and then allowed them to leave, sometimes the quicker the better. Not so now…

In a world of increasing competition for footfall, a focus on TIME spend and the “Time Economy” is going to change a lot of the shopping places that we own, develop and manage. My role changed recently to include foodservice, leisure, and placemaking as at ECE, we are keen for these “Time Economy” elements to work together for the benefit of our guests. I have always said large parts of the foodservice industry are actually leisure, now we are proving it every day.

As a business, ECE is well placed to re-purpose the centers we manage, to focus on small and large projects that support the “Time Economy” and keep our guests coming back regularly, because we have great places for people. Please don’t ask how much space is needed for food or leisure, because nobody knows, until you look at each site and you do the work necessary to determine the opening hours, seating volume, demographic and profiling of guests and a whole lot of other things that need to be clear before we “push the
button”.

What I am absolutely certain about, is that our guests are not so much thinking of our shopping centers as just shopping places, but also places where they can enjoy social interaction in a co-working space or gym, see events and visit attractions such as movie theaters or jump houses, enjoy great food and be provided with the services and products they want. At ECE we are planning now for a continuing evolution in our guests’ requirements for the future and its exciting, really exciting. The “Time Economy” is going to be around for some time…

 

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