The Evolution of Shopping Centres

Working with a variety of shopping centre landlords, it’s been interesting to learn about the changes and challenges they’re facing, and the impact this is having on their assets and teams. This impact is creating opportunity and innovation, as these businesses look to redevelop and repurpose their vast real estate assets.

The term “placemaking” has been used for years as a way of explaining how to enliven a particular destination or venue.  What we are seeing now however, goes much further than this. We are now looking at repurposing and re-imagining the assets, to create an altogether more diverse asset.

It is common knowledge that in recent years the conventional retail world is in a state of flux, but there are now a number of firms leading the charge to make necessary changes. These changes will mean that what were traditionally transaction focused centres, will become equally successful as destination centres with other purposes. The presence of food and beverage isn’t new, but its footprint in these centres and retail parks will continue to grow, particularly as competitive socialising becomes busier than ever (who doesn’t like to throw an axe whilst having a drink!) and rock climbers gracing many a wall which was once adorned with advertising boards.  An emerging trend we are seeing are health & wellness tenants becoming more prominent, and even car parks are being repurposed to maximise income streams.

The serviced office sector has also been further entwining itself with the retail industry.  Regional shopping centres and out of town retail parks have become ideal locations for individuals and companies to have an office base.  As commuters look to spend less time going into the larger cities on such as regular basis, but still want to be part of a work hub that is closer to home, it has created a growing market for the serviced office sector to open new locations.  This is a great example of how as one part of the industry struggles and is forced to adapt another sector can thrive and benefit from the spaces that are created.  The retail pressures came long before Covid and the serviced office sector was already growing at speed, but the last two years have likely helped this transition process as new habits are formed, and needs are met.

Whilst the changes to brick-and-mortar retail have been apparent, it has been interesting seeing the knock-on effect to the individuals these landlords are hiring, and the structures of the firms.  Instead of just bringing in those with property expertise, employers are also seeking those from retailers, who understand building and developing brands, equally those with a hospitality industry background are being welcomed into the sector.  That’s not to say those with traditional retail real estate backgrounds aren’t in demand, those with an ability to think laterally and creatively to maximise rental incomes are being hotly pursued.  Though those who call themselves Leasing Managers are finding even they are being rebranded to Customer Partnerships Managers or Brand Partners.

It seems to be that people either want a multi-faceted destination, full of experience and variation or quick, fast convenience. The challenge is whether the two can co-exist and how do we get there.

We have recently made placements in Asset Management, Leasing, Property Management and General Managers across the shopping centre market.

Get in touch with Christopher Mackenzie if you’d like to discuss any aspects of this market further, or how we can help with your recruitment needs.

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