Successful shopping centre operators need to be as passionate about their business as retailers are about theirs.
Their respective enthusiasm should drive the retailer and the operator to work effectively together in the shopping centre environment to create a fantastic customer experience and achieve superior performance.
“Only dedicated operators combine safe, secure and vibrant shopping centres with stand-out customer service, marketing and technology, while fully understanding retailers”
Whereas once generalist property investors were comfortable investing in and managing shopping centres, they have now left this almost exclusively to the specialists such as Intu – in 40 years we have grown from a single centre to run some £10 billion of prime regional shopping centre assets.
Only dedicated operators can optimally combine the creation of safe, secure and vibrant shopping centres with stand-out customer service, marketing and technology, while fully understanding retailers and their requirements.
As well as financing retailers’ activities through the medium of a lease, a good shopping centre landlord plays the vital role of placemaker. We want our centres to be special places where a shopping trip is full of great experiences. Our overriding objective is for shoppers to feel happier as the result of a visit to one of our centres, encouraging them to come back more often and for longer.
Placemaking is both an art and a science, and includes attracting the best retailers to trade out of the most suitable locations.
In a typical year, we re-let between 5% and 10% of our leases (which total approximately 4,000). The impact of this can be dramatic when viewed over a longer period of time and is important for shoppers who like their centres to be constantly refreshed.
Most of the UK’s top retailers are in our centres, alongside leading international brands, helping us to attract over a million visitors a day. Through our customer feedback programme they are happy to share their views of what makes a great shopping experience.
Little and large
Landlords are always on the lookout for that new and edgy retailer who can provide the latest and most desirable products and has a format to roll out to other centres. It is gratifying to see a fledgling retailer we have backed as a landlord develop into a thriving business of scale.
“Landlords are always on the lookout for that new and edgy retailer who can provide the latest and most desirable products and has a format to roll out to other centres”
A wide range of quality food and beverage outlets, absorbing leisure attractions, innovative pop-ups, and points of difference such as car showrooms, promotions and special events, also play their part.
But, at the core of the business is working with existing retailers to help them with their store opening programmes and assist them with upsizing, downsizing, trialling new formats or revitalising an existing store with a new fit-out.
We look for an inspirational and exciting store environment that captivates the imagination and draws the shopper off the mall, challenging the adjacent retailer.
High-quality shopping centres run by experienced and skilled operators who understand retailers’ needs and the digital consumer are continuing to thrive. They attract flagship stores from leading retailers, drive multichannel business and draw both repeat visits and longer dwell times. This is to the mutual benefit of shoppers, landlords and retailers alike.
- David Fischel is chief executive of Intu