Q.1. Why did KLM Retail attend MAPIC 2018 in Cannes?
It’s an opportunity to meet with our growing group of international network partners and exchange perspectives, contacts and ideas for various brands expanding in different directions across Europe and beyond. It also provides us with a good opportunity to market some of our international projects, or those with international appeal such as our outlet projects in Ireland, Scotland, France, Denmark and our Elektrownia project in Warsaw – which will prove to be one of Europe’s best mixed-use projects for 2019. Our portfolio of international projects is growing.
Q.2. What are the most significant trends you identified at MAPIC 2018?
The world is rapidly becoming a smaller place from a retail point of view. Successful businesses are looking at a global footprint rather than merely their country of origin, facilitated by improving logistics network, availability of international partners and franchisees and of course the Internet.
The growing importance of online is causing all owners to examine how they manage, develop and invest in spaces to keep them relevant as places to shop and visit, when faced with a highly convenient alternative. They have yet to touch some markets to the same degree as experienced in the UK. The question of sustainability and profitability of this form of retailing still has a lot to answer. If out-of-town retail parks provided a second "retail playing field", the Internet has now provided a third – with obvious widespread rebalancing to be mastered.
Q.3. In light of the above, what advice do you have for investors and retailers?
Both sides need to consider the town centre environment becoming a far more diverse place. For retail brands this inevitably means mingling the largest and most successful businesses with a variety of local traders, in locations which are not dominated by shopping centres – especially the covered variety.
There is greater need for shops of a smaller, more human scale to accommodate independent brands on leases which are low cost and flexible: providing the environment for new growth to flourish. The diverse retail environment is an interesting concept around the UK and Europe.
Investors and local authorities need to strongly consider diversity in the overall pattern of uses and city centres encouraging and replacing offices, (which are often shipped out to the periphery) and residential, as necessary drivers of a healthy, busy urban core. There are some stark and unfavourable comparisons between vibrant continental cities and some of the UK's own, where our city centres have been "hollowed out" over time.