23 October 2017 – Expansión
Star asset / The boom in e-commerce and change in consumer habits are revolutionising the traditional concept of retail. Offering new experiences and turning their properties into iconic spaces are some of the maxims of the owners of shopping centres.
Much more than retail spaces. The new generation of shopping centres is evolving to incorporate a leisure concept for the whole family and to adapt to the demands of the millennials. Aquariums, artificial lakes, ski resorts, diving pools; everything fits into these new megaresorts designed for leisure, experiences and shopping.
“We have to implement new concepts, but without taking our eye off the ball in terms of the retail mix”, explain sources at Unibail-Rodamco, the largest listed commercial real estate company in Europe, which owns 13 centres in Spain, worth more than €3,500 million, and which plans to invest an additional €650 million in the country between now and 2024.
“We have introduced the DEX (Dining Experience), which aims to revolutionise restaurant spaces in shopping centres through a combination of architecture, design and leisure to offer a multi-sensorial experience”, explain the sources. They are adamant that “physical stores are not incompatible with e-commerce. In fact, we are seeing lots of the companies that originated in the digital environment now looking for physical points of sale. Amazon has opted to sell through physical stores with its acquisition of Whole Foods in the USA. We have also seen the same thing with Hawkers, the sunglasses brand, which recently opened its first physical store in Madrid”.
“Shopping centres are having to evolve to adapt themselves to the new needs and wants of customers, combining technology, multi-channels and experiences to reach more demanding end consumers”, explains Luis Lázaro, Head of the Shopping Centre division at Merlin Properties, which plans to invest €100 million over the next few years in both modernising the image of its centres as well as in updating its commercial offer.
José Manuel Llovet, Director of Retail at Lar – which owns 14 shopping centres in Spain – explains that the Socimi is working on improving the customer experience. “We are investing more than €60 million in Capex to adapt and modernise our centres, improve services and experiences, as well as implement the omnichannel strategy”.
Sources at Intu, owner of Puerto Venecia (Zaragoza), Intu Asturias (Asturias) and Xanadú (Madrid), which also has several important projects underway, say they use the shopping resort concept as the formula for attracting consumers, turning shopping centres into “tourist and leisure attractions”, and adopting a strategy of fewer operators with larger surface areas.
Meanwhile, Sociedad General Inmobiliaria de España (Lsgie) inaugurated Plaza Río 2 on Friday. One of the main features of that centre, located on the banks of the Manzanares River (Madrid) is its Mirador (lookout), which they define as “the best restaurant terrace in the capital” (…).
Carolina Ramos Alcobía, Director of the Shopping Centre Leasing department at Aguirre Newman, points out that Spain is promoting a model that moves away from the traditional shopping centre. “The trend is moving towards an aesthetics of open shopping centres, which are more like small towns or urban shopping centres; moreover, that concept is very highly favoured by the Spanish climate. The key is to get away from the stress associated with hectic, uncomfortable shopping centres” (…).
According to Ramos, “we are undoubtedly witnessing the largest transformation of shopping centres since they first opened in Spain, almost forty years ago. If they don’t spruce themselves up, they won’t survive” (…).
In terms of investment (…), according to Javier García-Mateo, Real Estate Partner in Financial Advisory at Deloitte, “a voracious appetite exists for medium-sized shopping centres, which we have not seen for more than ten years”. According to data from Deloitte, so far this year, investment in shopping centres amounts to €2,300 million. In 2016, investors spent €3,769 million buying shopping centres in Spain, almost doubling the figure recorded in 2015 (…).
Original story: Expansión (by R. Arroyo and M. Anglés)
Translation: Carmel Drake