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Welcome to the Future Retail Challenge portal, which is a vital part for organising your participation at the event. 

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Megan Cotton


Monday 21 February

Confirm your team names
Please send the full names and email addresses of your team members to  Megan Cotton by Monday 21 February.

Monday 28 February

College Logo
Please submit your college logo in high resolution PNG and EPS format to  Megan Cotton by Monday 28 February.

Team Photograph
Please submit a high resolution photograph of your team to  Megan Cotton by Monday 28 February.

Friday 25 March

10-page Report & Presentation
Please submit the below documents to Megan Cotton by Friday 25 March.

  • 10 page report
  • Presentation for onsite (this must be submitted in PPT format, not PDF)

Wednesday 5th April

Stand Artwork
Please submit your stand artwork to Megan Cotton by Wednesday 5th April 

You can view the artwork specification here.

The Challenge

Reinventing the shopping mall for the post-pandemic world

The 2023 competition focuses on one of the biggest challenges facing not just retail, but all urban spaces and societies around the world. For the last 60 years, our towns and cities have been shaped and redefined by major shopping malls and with it, retail too. They became the anchors and the heart of urban development and social activities. 

That era has now come to an end as department store anchors have closed and other retail tenants exited. In many countries, retail has been seen to have become “over-stored” with too much space chasing declining offline sales which had led to many retailers starting store closure programmes. The pandemic has accelerated this process to the extent that those town and city centres without a viable and radical strategy are in serious danger of declining irrevocably and with it the social fabric of those centres. It has been forecast that 25% of US malls will close within the next few years and in the UK, between 2016 and 2021, 83% of department stores - the anchors of so many malls - closed according to CoStar and the Financial Times.

Shopping mall owners and developers are now facing a real crisis and an urgent need to reinvent and rethink the purpose of large retail spaces such as malls. In a post-pandemic world that has seen ecommerce grow dramatically and towns and city centres decimated by the closure of retail, leisure and office spaces, one of the biggest questions is around what can be done to reverse this decline. 

There is strong evidence that consumers are returning to stores but their expectations are higher and more testing than ever before and although online growth is slowing, it is clear that those consumers demand a seamless experience between on and offline and they are looking for new reasons to visit established destinations. 

What the judges will be looking for:

Your summary of the challenges facing your selected shopping mall as it is today which includes your analysis of why this has happened not just across the shopping mall sector but specifically to your mall. The mall you select should be in a non-prime position but with a closed department store anchor and a high number of empty shop units.

Your plan to reposition, relaunch and reinvent your chosen shopping mall. Within this plan, you should set out in detail:

  • Your vision for the whole space: what is the new proposition? What will be the “magic” ingredients and what is your thinking behind this and why you believe it will attract consumers? Who will be the consumer demographic groups selected and why?

  • What will be the mix of space usage in your repositioned mall between retail, leisure, hospitality, entertainment, experiential and any other sectors?

  • How will create a seamless “omnichannel” experience that blends digital, online expectations with physical space? How could you envisage the metaverse playing a role in your new strategy? How will you be able to tackle the challenge or opportunity of “showrooming”?

  • How will you make it relevant to your city and its consumers? Are there any real-life examples from your city that could provide inspiration and relevance within your new strategy?

  • What do you envisage being the biggest obstacles and challenges in persuading all the stakeholders of the successful outcome for your plan? Stakeholders will include the mall owners, the current tenants, future tenants, the city or town leaders, consumer groups.

  • How will you market and launch your new mall in order to attract consumers and tackle preconceived views based on the former mall?

  • What are the financials and returns for the Mall owners/ Shareholders?

  • How will you ensure that your new mall takes a lead in establishing strong Net Zero and sustainability benchmarks?

  • What will the Mall owners/ shareholders think and what will be their potential impacts on returns and value for the asset they own?

  • What will change to attract new retailers into the mall – rent, footfalls, brand presentation?

  • What will success look like?

You will be expected to have researched this sector of retail, leisure and hospitality real estate and teams will be able to consult with industry experts as part of their research. 

What you will need to do:

Produce a 10-page report that sets out your plans to meet the challenge. This should be submitted 10 days before the World Retail Congress which takes place on April 25-27th. 

The final of the Future Retail Challenge will be held at the World Retail Congress in Barcelona on April 25th and each team will give a presentation covering their ideas about how they will achieve the targets and goals set in the brief. The presentations will be given to a panel of judges and an audience of Congress retail delegates. 

The presentations will be no longer than 8 minutes with 3 minutes for questions from the panel of 4 senior retail industry judges. All four members of the team should be involved in giving the presentation.

Presentations should seek to be informative and entertaining.

At the Congress, each team will be given a display area with panels setting out the key ideas that show how your chosen retailer can meet the targets set by the challenge. The Congress will produce the display panels and construct the display area but each team should provide us with the images and graphics that will be shown on the display panels.

The winners of the 2023 Future Retail Challenge will be announced on the afternoon of April 25th.

Judging Criteria

Submission of paper: 30% of the scores

Presentation at the Congress 50% of the score based on:

Content of presentation (Proposed ideas, Execution, originality, effectiveness  and communication to target consumer) 20%

Quality of presentation (presentation AV, messaging, audience engagement and quality of delegate presentation) 10%

Relevance to brief (questions above) 10%

Response to Judges questions (on the day) 10%


  • All colleges to provide to the World Retail Congress the names of the maximum of 4 students in the team with team photograph, college logo by end of February, 2023

  • Submissions for the judges (10-page papers, additional pages of illustrations) to be received by World Retail Congress no later than March 25th, 2022

  • Teams should arrive at the Congress venue on the afternoon or evening of Monday 24th for briefing and orientation and to rehearse for final presentations which will take place from 10.45am on April 25th (times will be reconfirmed closer to the date)

  • April 25-27th: students able to attend all sessions of the World Retail Congress but should be in attendance at the Future Retail Challenge display area and the teams own display

Event Timings & Winner Announcement

Presentation Schedule

Tuesday 25 April
10:30 - 10:35  | Welcome Address from Bernie Brookes, Colette Australia  
10:35 - 10:50  | EDHEC Business School, France
10:55 - 11:10    | ESCP Business School, Italy
11:15 - 11:30    | Fashion Institute of Technology, NYC, USA

Comfort Break

11:40 - 11:55   | The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong
12:00 - 12:15  | London College of Fashion, London 
12.20 - 12.35  | Swinburne University, Melbourne, Australia
12:35 - 12:50  | University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
12:50 - 12:55  | Closing Remarks 

The winner will be announced Tuesday 25 April on the Congress main stage.


Tuesday 25 April 2023 
08.00 | Registration Open
10.30 - 12:50 | Future Retail Challenge
12.00 | Welcome Lunch
13.00 - 18:00 | World Retail Congress Main Stage
18.30 | World Retail Congress Open Party, La LLotja

Wednesday 26 April 2023
07.00 | Registration
08.00 | Congress Open
09.00 - 17:45 | World Retail Congress Main Stage & Breakout Stage

Thursday 27th April
07:30 | Registration
09.00 - 15.20 | World Retail Congress Main Stage & Breakout
15.30 | Close World Retail Congress 


Arts Hotel

marriot reservation link

Occidental hotel

Barcelo reservation link

If you would like to stay at the Occidental Hotel, please email Megan Cotton, who will arrange the booking using negotiated rates


Floor Plan

floorplanKindly note, the floor plan is subject to change.


Submit your Presentation

Please send your 16:9 widescreen PowerPoint presentation to Megan Cotton by Friday 25 March

This must be submitted in a PowerPoint format, please do not submit as a PDF file.

Presentation Requirements

The presentation requirements below must be adhered to. Kindly note that you will need to make changes to your presentation if the requirements are not adhered to. Our AV team is not able to make any amendments to your presentation.

  • The presentation ratio must be 16:9 widescreen
  • Video format MP4 H264 Codec
  • Font size – 36Pts Bold for headings, 32 pts for content
  • Videos must be embedded in PowerPoint on automatic start. We also require the original video in the format mentioned above, as backup 

Key Points to Remember

  • Images and graphics can maximize the impact of your presentation
  • Try to keep to 10 slides for a 20-minute presentation
  • Slides should be visual rather than text-heavy
  • If you are using Prezzi or Keynote, please let us know as soon as possible
  • If you are using your own Macbook or iPad you will need to provide individual adaptors for the DVIconnector
  • If you are using your own computer you will need to use this from the lectern so please let us know as soon as possible


All attendees of World Retail Congress must register their details ahead of arriving onsite. Please follow the instructions below to register.

  • Click here to register

  • Enter your unique email address

  • Select the 'Guest' category

  • Create a password for your account (this will allow you to amend your details)

  • Complete your details - list your specific university under the Company field

  • Enter the unique code GUEST23WRC

  • Submit your registration - you will shortly receive a confirmation email of your registration

If you have any questions, please contact Megan Cotton.

Your Stand

Click here to view details regarding your stand

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