Opinion

KEEP RETAIL MOVING FORWARD

The quality of the retail offer presented by a shopping center is the route to leveraging customer preference. It is therefore key to retailer success. The art of leasing is central to our business.

BY JEAN-MARC JESTIN

The quality of the retail offer presented by a shopping center is the route to leveraging customer preference. It is therefore key to retailer success. The art of leasing is central to our business. Every center must achieve the perfect balance between an offer that is not only new and fresh, but also relevant to shoppers. The right mix has essential retailers at its core, surrounded by brands that make headlines; those that lead fashion and unique concepts that add a sharp edge to retailing. We are fortunate enough to own unique destinations that are very well located in regions with large consumer catchment areas. Our European dimension is another key strength, because it allows us to identify emerging concepts and work alongside growing retailers. We must work with brands on a day-to-day basis to help them launch their very latest concepts, often in larger stores. It is also our job to identify brands that are running out of steam and becoming yesterday’s news.

The winning formula is to keep up a continual process of raising the bar. Naturally, we must deliver the basics of our business perfectly – hospitality, safety, shopping, convenience, etc. But even more importantly, we must be ambitious and inventive to offer more than simply retail floor space. In today’s difficult market, our challenge is to create shopping centers that attract both retailers and customers.

Stand out through innovation: this ambition encouraged us to create Club Store®, an exclusive concept that completely remodels the customer pathway in our shopping centers. We want our centers to provide the perfect environment for promoting the most powerful names in retailing. That means an environment in which every detail matters. Tailored to the unique personality of each center, Club Store® covers every factor that contributes to the customer shopping experience from the moment they drive into the parking area. It offers all visitors the opportunity to catch their breath, meet up with friends, and relax. 95%* of customers who have tried our new rest, relaxation, meeting, and service spaces say that they enjoy them. 43%* say that they spend longer in the center since it became a Club Store®.

Transforming the shopping experience also means looking at center communication and events in a new way. Our brand-new Let’s Play® advertising campaign positions our shopping centers squarely in the world of fashion, with a touch of fun, elegance, and glamour. It invites shoppers to take up the challenge of having the things they want without breaking the bank. Let’s Play® is all about making sure that visitors leave our centers having enjoyed a completely different and memorable experience. Festive events and exclusive shows, designed in partnership with leading international brands and hosted throughout the year, add a new dimension of interest to customer visits and stimulate footfall. We have also developed a unique digital platform and our digital resources are now focused on the products and brands that are priorities for our customers. Digital will become a major accelerator of business for our shopping centers.

Centers themselves can exploit the potential for seductive appeal that only a unique physical location is capable of: the ability to bring customers and retailers together for a high-quality shopping experience that is also a valuable opportunity to meet and chat. To succeed in developing our shopping centers, we must go back to the basics of retailing and work alongside brands to help them win customers.

We must cultivate our retail spirit, and be attentive, considerate, and demanding in our efforts to make shoppers want to stay longer and come back more often.

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*) Survey conducted among visitors to the Les Passages shopping center in April 2014.

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