After a record year 2022 in leasing in Germany and Austria with 732 leases for the 23 assets in the region, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW) now invited its partners and stakeholders to its B2B networking event. On March 22 and 23, URW hosted Retail Open House – due to the strong industry-wide interest and the large number of guests at last year’s edition, the event was even spread over two days this year. The exclusive location was Automuseum Prototyp in Hamburg’s HafenCity a few minutes’ walk from the future flagship destination Westfield Hamburg Überseequartier. Around 900 guests from the retail, gastronomy, leisure and real estate sectors followed the invitation to the company’s central industry event.
The focus of this year’s Retail Open House was on the presentation of URW’s corporate strategy, the portfolio in Austria and Germany as well as an update on the mixed-use project Westfield Hamburg-Überseequartier, including numerous site visits. The pre-letting rate for the retail, gastronomy and leisure sectors is now at 75 percent. In addition, the company presented the service portfolio of the in-house media agency Westfield Rise, which was founded in 2022, and reported on the progress in executing its ambitious sustainability strategy “Better Places 2030”.
On the first day, most of the guests were from the national and international scene. On the second day, which was additionally organized for local business partners, stakeholders and those interested in Westfield Hamburg-Überseequartier due to the great demand throughout the industry, the company went into detail once again with regard to the current project development in HafenCity: In small groups, URW presented in particular the plans for the integration of local partners from gastronomy, retail and daily needs. The highlight of the day was a top-class panel discussion on attractive places, their requirements and success factors.
Participants were Cornelia Poletto, famous TV chef, Dr. Jannika Bock, Managing Director Retail at Google Germany, Prof. Elke Pahl-Weber, City Centre Coordinator of the City of Hamburg, Inga Wellmann, Head of the Department of Art, Literature and Creative Industries at Hamburg’s Ministry of Culture and Media, and Constantin Wiesmann, Director of Leasing Austria & Germany at host URW. The panel was led by Annett Möller, RTL moderator and bestselling author.
Constantin Wiesmann, Director of Leasing Austria & Germany at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, says: “After we were able to host last year’s Retail Open House again as a physical event for the first time after a three year break due to the pandemic and again very successfully, we decided to give this great industry event even more space and extend it to two days this year. Especially the personal exchange with our partners and stakeholders is indispensable for us to further strengthen our cooperations and networks. The market is also in a state of flux and retailers, F&B operators as well as cultural and leisure providers are therefore weighing their location decisions very carefully. At Retail Open House, we had the opportunity to present our strategic orientation, our portfolio in Austria and Germany, the flagship destination Westfield Hamburg Überseequartier as well as the diverse range of services offered by our media agency Westfield Rise. We are delighted that the event, which has been firmly established for years, has grown once again – with around 900 guests over the two days, a new record was set once again.”
Presenting URW’s strategy and portfolio
In order to present the core elements of the company’s strategy and the detailed leasing agenda, various theme worlds were set up on the event floor – including the group-wide sustainability programme “Better Places 2030”, Westfield Rise, the in-house agency for media, brand experience and data partnerships, URW’s business segment of managing retail properties for investor partners, as well as the flagship destination Westfield Hamburg-Überseequartier. URW’s portfolio in Austria and Germany were presented via virtual 360° tours of the shopping centres and Westfield Hamburg-Überseequartier via virtual reality tours and construction site visits.
The “Hamburg Day”: Exciting insights into project development
The second day of Retail Open House in particular was dedicated to Westfield Hamburg-Überseequartier and further local networking. URW had invited local business partners and stakeholders from the retail, gastronomy, entertainment, art and culture sectors, as well as business, politics and administration, and numerous other people interested in the project. In various topic-oriented groups of 15 to 20 people each, URW gave deeper insights into the strategic orientation of the future flagship destination and the plans for the explicit integration of local concepts. The thematic focus was on the areas of food & beverage, fashion and premium retail as well as daily needs – each with a focus on cooperation with local champions.
Panel discussion: attractive places, their requirements and success factors
The central agenda item of the second day was the panel discussion on attractive places and the exploration of the requirements for the appeal of these places, and in particular which role retail, gastronomy as well as entertainment, art and culture play in thisregard. Participants in the discussion were Cornelia Poletto, famous TV chef and former holder of a Michelin star, Dr. Jannika Bock, Managing Director Retail at Google Germany, Prof. Elke Pahl-Weber, City Centre Coordinator of the City of Hamburg, Inga Wellmann, Head of the Department of Art, Literature and Creative Industries at Hamburg’s Ministry of Culture and Media, and Constantin Wiesmann, Director of Leasing Austria & Germany at host URW. The panel was led by Annett Möller, RTL moderator and bestselling author.