Opinion

Investment in dominance, experience, and convenience

The last twelve months have been incredibly active in the retail business at Land Securities and this has been driven by a strategy that has completely transformed our retail portfolio by focusing on schemes that deliver dominance, experience, and convenience in their respective catchments. This transformation is best demonstrated with an in-depth look at the drivers of success that consumers and retail brands have responded to. This has ultimately resulted in having a retail portfolio that is made up of fewer properties overall, but a higher number of bigger, better, flagship centers located in prime shopping locations.

BY AILISH CHRISTIAN-WEST

Our approach to dominance has been to acquire or develop dominant regional shopping centers located in, or close to, the most attractive cities in the United Kingdom. By shaping our presence in these locations, we can accommodate larger, flagship retail formats, enabling retailers to create truly experiential stores, which increase consumer spend and dwell time, as we know from our research partner CACI. They also provide resilience to changing consumer behaviors, while offering retailers the chance to work strategically with one of the leading retail portfolios in the country.

In our conversations with retailers, we consistently see an eagerness to invest in maximizing their presence in dominant and affluent catchment areas, creating larger floorplates in order to meet the increasing demands of today’s consumer. Such retailers include Ralph Lauren, which will soon deliver one of its largest outlet stores in Europe at Gunwharf Quays, and both Hotel Chocolat and Russell & Bromley, who are upsizing and investing in new store formats at Bluewater.

With a portfolio shift towards bigger and better retail and leisure destinations, where consumers want to spend more time, our strategy has also demonstrated the need to re-focus the leisure offering across our portfolio – ensuring we create an experience where consumers can enjoy a “whole day out.” Our acquisition of X Leisure has enabled us to draw on unique and invaluable in-house expertise to develop an innovative approach to leisure that facilitates the need for a statement food and beverage offer while also tapping into a more active consumer experience.

The need to be “wowed” also extends into the food and beverage space, where we have purposely moved away from old-style food “courts” to create unique, urban, social dining spaces such as Trinity Kitchen at Trinity Leeds in the North of England. At Trinity Kitchen, visitors are given a choice of street food and operators are changed on a monthly basis to keep the offer fresh. By continuing to adapt and innovate, landlords in the retail sector must strive to deliver an exceptional leisure experience that complements the retail offer. It is a space that will no doubt continue to grow and, as such, there are many examples of ambitious concepts emerging across the country. From boutique cinemas, ice rinks and mini-Legolands, to digitally interactive and immersive experiences, the United Kingdom is truly addressing consumer demand for shopping centers that are destinations in their own right.

At Land Securities, we are creating a solution that meets the demand for an exceptional experience, complemented by convenience in a dominant destination. We therefore believe we have developed a retail strategy that will enable us to remain competitive in both the short and long term. As we deliver on our strategy, we strongly believe that investment in dominance, experience, and convenience will deliver long-term growth for our business, our investors, and the retailers we support.

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