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F.l.t.r. Klaus Striebich (CEO RaRE Advise), Alison Rehill-Erguven (CEO Pradera Retail Asia), Christine Hager (Managing Director / Head of Shopping Center Asset Management, redos Group), and Reinhard Winiwarter (Publisher ACROSS Magazine). Image: MK Illumination.

The second edition of “ACROSS Retail Talks“

The theme in Cannes on November 12, 2019 was “There is life in the old dog yet… Why retail will continue to play an important role in our future lives.”

The successful premiere of the exclusive event series “ACROSS Retail Talks” took place in Vienna on September 18, 2019. The second edition of this new format happened recently on November 12, 2019 at 4:30pm, where the industry traditionally comes together at this time of the year – in Cannes, France where Mapic, the retail real estate fair, takes place. MK Illumination welcomed its invited guests to this “ACROSS Retail Talk” at the beautiful Villa Marie Pierrette on Rue Henri Paschke.

After his welcome address, ACROSS publisher Reinhard Winiwarter handed host duties over to Klaus Striebich, CEO of RaRE Advise (see also his commentary down below). He outlined the evening’s topic “There is life in the old dog yet… Why retail will continue to play an important role in our future lives.” The panel consisted of Alison Rehill-Erguven (CEO of Pradera Asia), Valerie Stern (Global Strategic Alliance of Fast Retailing Group, which is part of Brand Uniqlo), and Christine Hager (Managing Director of redos). The three women explained their questions, including “do retail markets have no future – as the whole world only talks about online and e-commerce –, or are experiencing a period of major changes, restructuring processes with an ultimately positive perspective”. They also talked about in what way life cycles of retail concepts and their perspective locations are changing right now and what the resulting new requirements for tenants are. A heated discussion ensued after the question regarding the most promising concepts to watch and how one must adjust one’s business model to remain successful. Another controversial issue was the search for international experiences and findings that can be applied to one’s specific location and realized successfully.

Building permits, opening hours, etc.

The panel agreed that all market players have to reinvent themselves. Focusing on one’s customers has to be the clear goal, as they definitely appreciate any efforts regarding placemaking as well as community building, which are already happening at several malls. Furthermore, contacts with the political world have to become more professional to advance issues such as building permits, opening hours, fair taxation of online retailers, and many more. Building bridges in all directions is therefore the basis for a thriving future.

Among the twenty invited guests were Jörg Zurhorst of Peek & Cloppenburg, Markus Pinggera of the Supernova Group and Peter De Roo von De Vlier. MK Illumination’s Thomas Mark followed the “ACROSS Retail Talk” as well. He invited all participants to the MK Illumination party at said Villa Maria Pierrette to have a good time.


“As retail has to follow the needs and requirements of consumers, the retail real estate industry has to follow the needs and requirements of the retail industry.”

Commentary by Klaus Striebich

Headlines like “retail is dead!” are very often seen these days. But is the quoted “death of retail” reality or just a ruse of the media industry because of missing alternative topics?

Retail and retailing are one of the oldest industries and necessities of human mankind, as retail has been trying to organize, supply and fulfill everyone’s needs, wishes, and desires for millennia. Will we (humans, consumers) have further wishes and desires in times when you may get every product, at any time, at any place (more or less)? For sure, we will have! Therefore, retail will be needed to get this “job done”. The question is: How should retail look like to get this job done?

It is obvious, that like our wishes and desires have changed tremendously, but also the way to organize and operate retailing needs to be changed. In the past, when we have not really known what we like and want to have, retail and retailers have offered products and services to consumers and gained a new demand. Major trends like mobility, globalization, or new possibilities of communication have changed the relationship between retail and consumers. New places and locations have appeared and were developed where people can shop–easily, worldwide, and in multiple ways by now. As a result, multi-channel-retail was born.

In addition to the new requirements for locations and shopping opportunities, the speed of change has increased enormously. The former need for long-lasting locations has evolved into new formats like pop-ups where brands and offers show up successfully just for a few days or weeks. Product lifecycles are much shorter due to the intense global competition and the available alternatives to spend money and time.

All these evolutions in consumers’ demands and retail–and they will develop even further–are affecting all retail-related branches, e.g. suppliers, service providers, and of course the real estate industry. The need for adjustments and modifications in the real estate sector is a logical consequence. As retail has to follow the needs and requirements of consumers, the retail real estate industry has to follow the needs and requirements of the retail industry. Locations are always needed – independent of where they are and how they look – and do not forget that retail is more than just a “store.” Not to forget the other stakeholders in the retail real estate industry, e.g. municipalities and authorities, bankroller or evaluators, as they have to understand the actual situation and needs, and must adjust their way of thinking and working. 

But there is one thing in retail that has not changed. It should not change and hopefully will never change. It is the passion of retail and retailers to service their consumers (this means us) at any time. This passion–a success factor for successful retail concepts–should be an ideal for each branch or industry regarding how to manage and cope with situations that are a bit more demanding and ambitious. Passionate moments lead to higher heart rates, comparable with the moment when we fall in love. Let’s keep falling in love–with retail and the many opportunities we may have. This passion will ensure that the condemned live longer.