At this year’s seventh World Retail Congress in Paris, omnichannel retailing was the dominant topic once again. The roles and relationships of online and offline retail have been hotly debated at this annual event and, somewhat perversely, among the general concordance that the world was not only to become omnichannel but had, in fact, been omnichannel for some time, was disparity about what that actually meant.

Not for the first time Sir Philip Green reflected that his Arcadia empire would look very different should he be modelling afresh today and he emphasised his view by pointing out that he has one Californian store serving a catchment of 40 million, while to reach 60 million Brits took 2,500 stores. “Imbalance” is how he described what didn’t sound like terribly good news for smaller high streets.

Kingfisher CEO Ian Cheshire talked about “fundamental change” as he discussed wrestling with a behemoth like Amazon, pointing out that editing and service in-store were the differentiators against a competitor that would always be able to provide more choice.

Meanwhile Carrefour CEO Georges Plassat embarked on an impassioned defence of the hypermarket and declared that its demise (which in France has been an accelerated version of what we’ve seen in the UK) was in fact about the operators forgetting to stick to their knitting. At Carrefour the emphasis is back on service and facilities in a strategy Plassat believes will see big box grocery find favour once again.

While Plassat was insisting that the hypermarket “is not dead”, colourful founder and CEO Jacques-Antione Granjon was telling anyone who would listen that pure play most certainly is. “For me it is the end of pure players, they are finished,” he said. “The future is multichannel and cross-channel. Ecommerce is just a new distribution channel.”

Granjon made the point that Amazon has become a brand that created first trust, then a marketplace for others to sell from, and that now it makes products. He also bet that pure play fashion retailer Asos will one day look at the likes of Regent Street, the Champs Elysees, plus key retail districts in New York and Tokyo, and decide they want to be there with physical stores.

Such a view might currently confound Asos head Nick Robertson, but what all the top speakers had in common was a sense that redefinition and realignment of the offer have become constant factors. That incessant sense of flux creates a dilemma for the retail property industry – until not so long ago schooled in relative permanence and the 25 year lease – and like the retailers, it is those which find a way to embrace and evolve with the change who are most likely to win out.