Destinations cannot progress if landlords and retailers don't share data
Shopping centres and high streets will not revive or thrive without landlords and retailers being prepared to share data and work towards common goals, World Retail Congress delegates were told yesterday afternoon.
Roger Wade, Founder and CEO, Boxpark, said that all parties have to accept that change has been profound and permanent: “Online has replaced shopping centres for convenience, but people are still spending on food and leisure out. At this present time there has never been a worse relationship between retailers and landlords. In the UK we have major retailers issuing CVAs (voluntary administrations) and running away from their debts, which is clearly unacceptable.”
He proposed a “root and branch” review of what high streets will be like without shops. “Firstly, the government needs to get involved. Let’s start with business rates, which is crazy. Look at Amsterdam with zoning and how that encourages independents,” he said.
“This us and them relationship needs to end, they need to come together and realise that they have a common goal to get the cashtills ringing. We need to share the challenges and rewards and reduce lease lengths. And ultimately we need to look at valuations. At Boxpark we are not interested in covenants, we look at brand strength.”
Brian Harper, CEO, RPT Realty, added: “Data is the new oil, we need to share the data more. We need to curate the analytics weekly that should be helpful to our retail partners for nothing, because we believe that it will help us all. We are trying it out on two centres.
The game has changed so dramatically that it has to be both, stores and online. But we have to have a shared eco-system to be excellent. For stores, fulfilment is out, experience is in.”
Bill Kistler, EVP and Managing Director, EMEA, ICSC, said: “It is all about community – if a centre or high street is not vibrant, then the community suffers. And for investors, yes retail may not be the hottest asset class right now but it uplifts the other assets.”
Wade added: “It’s crazy for retailers not to share data. Not so much small is beautiful but that’s where it’s going, and we embrace change all the time. And we are embracing delivery, don’t fight it. Whatever the change, embrace it. If you don’t then guess what, Toys R Us happens to you.”