Confidence Returns as MAPIC Delegates Talk Shop

Retailers and retail real estate executives expressed renewed confidence in the state of the market, as some 7,400 delegates (+10% compared to 2009) from 67 countries gathered in Cannes for three days of intense business and networking at MAPIC 2010. Independent delegate research carried out by the Wisconsin School of Business, reported 62% of retailers attending MAPIC had seen their first quarter 2010 business grow compared to 2009 and that 73% of them are now more optimistic about retail real estate than last year. According to research report ‘How Active are Retailers in EMEA,’ released on day two of MAPIC by CB Richard Ellis, “retailers intend to ramp up their expansion plans in 2011, signaling a return to confidence in the sector as an increasing number of retailers look to significantly increase their store networks next year.” 

“Retailer sentiment has risen markedly since its low point last year. It is clear that more retailers are confident enough to accelerate their expansion,” noted Peter Gold, Head of EMEA Cross Border Retail at CBRE.

Heading the list of territories being targeted by retailers for 2011 expansion were Germany, Poland and France – MAPIC 2010’s Country of Honor – according to CBRE, which reported that 41% of retail brands interviewed intended to open a store in Germany next year. Among those expressing optimism over the German market was Primark’s Director of Property, Thomas Meager. In his keynote address at MAPIC, Meager announced Primark’s intention to continue to grow in Europe and said there are still “huge opportunities” in such countries as Germany.

Confirming interest in the Polish market, Tesco Poland and Echo Investment chose MAPIC to announce that they had signed retail space lease agreements for Tesco to be present in Galeria Olimpia in Belchatow and Galeria Veneda situated in Lomza, both being developed by Echo Investment.

“Signing agreements with Tesco has allowed us to make a big step forward in the commercialization of these (shopping) centers,” commented Marcin Materny, Head of Shopping Centre Development at Echo Investment.

In the MAPIC exhibitions halls, delegates commented on an influx of brands looking to develop their store networks.

“We have made a significant effort to attract retail brands this year and the results have been very positive, with over 100 retail companies attending for the first time,” said MAPIC Director, Nathalie Depetro. “The presence of new retailers has clearly contributed to the 10% increase in the number of companies (2,940) attending MAPIC this year.”

With over 1,000 companies present in Cannes, the French delegation proved to be MAPIC’s largest. As Country of Honor, France took center stage in Cannes, with the country’s newly-appointed Secretary for State at the Ministry of Economy, Finance and Industry, Frederic Lefebvre, lending his support to French retail real estate executives by attending the event and presenting the MAPIC 2010 Personality of the Year Award to Jean-Paul Fréret, Director of Expansion and Real Estate at France’s leading ready-to-wear chain store group Vivarte.

Paris Beaugrenelle, one of the most ambitious shopping mall projects in the French capital, and a major attraction at MAPIC, underlined the move towards providing a shopping experience that integrates retail with leisure. Set to be open for business in 2013, the completely reconstructed Beaugrenelle mall will deliver 80 shops, a 10-screen cinema multiplex and 14 restaurants.

One key subject to be debated in the MAPIC exhibition halls and conference rooms was the exact impact of online shopping. In France, the first quarter of 2010 saw over 25 million French cyber-buyers looking for web-based bargains to help overcome their purchasing power problems. Research on the French retail market, released by Jones Lang LaSalle to coincide with MAPIC, put the value of web-shopping in France at €25 billion in 2009.

“Retailers and developers here at MAPIC seem to be divided on their approach to online shopping. Everyone knows that online will have a role to play in the retail process but there seems to be no real agreement on what role and what strategy to invent,” commented François Ortalo-Magné, Wisconsin School of Business Global Real Estate Director, following three days of independent delegate surveys in Cannes by Wisconsin School of Business researchers.

“There are those companies like SFR who are radically re-educating their store staff so that they have the same level of product knowledge as the clients who come to the shop having surfed the web to find about products. There are those companies who see their flagship stores as communication tools. And there are those companies who haven’t yet decided what to do,” added Ortalo-Magné.

One line of thought is that shoppers will continue to visit stores for the physical experience of handling goods. Commenting on whether internet posed a threat to the retail real estate industry, Carrefour Property CEO Pascal Duhamel told MAPIC delegates, “From a real estate perspective I don’t think it’s a threat at all.”

With city administrators increasingly looking at their urban development policies, MAPIC’s inaugural ‘Retail in the City’ summit provided lively debate on how the public and private sectors will work together and the important role that retail is playing in urban development and redevelopment policy.

Reporting back from the closed-door summit, chief moderators Sharon Fernández-Cavada King, Director of ERV Consulting and Bertrand Boullé, CEO, Mall & Market, said that there was a general consensus that as public spending comes under pressure, city administrations will look to private partners, including those involved in retail real estate, to help finance infrastructure and attract both investors and commercial tourists to cities.

“There are plenty of examples of cities such as Liverpool, using retail as a central part of their regeneration policy,” said Sharon Fernández-Cavada King. She added that the trend is for new retail development to move towards mixed-use buildings rather than pure shopping malls. “I think that the public sector and the private sector are still not talking exactly the same language, which was why the ‘Retail in the City’ was an excellent opportunity to learn about each other.” 

on November 22, 2010