MAPIC, oltre le ombre

Judi Seebus,  Direttore Responsabile  di Property EU

Beyond the shadows.

The atrocities committed in Paris a week ago today were on everybody’s mind as they headed to Cannes for Mapic this week.


Nobody seemed to mind that security at both Nice airport and the Palais des Festivals – epicentre of the annual retail real estate fair – was tighter than in previous years. Needless to say, the extra precautions and assurances conveyed prior to the fair by organiser Reed Midem were not enough to persuade some delegates to make the annual pilgrimage to the Riviera. According to those who did attend, cancellations were highest among colleagues and business contacts from the US, Asia, Australia and Israel. Some companies, such as BNP Paribas, had reportedly instructed staff to curtail international travel altogether, or at least as much as possible.

The terrorist attacks in Paris certainly cast a shadow which reached all the way to Mapic in Cannes, and were even described as a ‘generation change event’ by Michael Kercheval, the outgoing president and chief executive officer of ICSC, during a farewell speech at the ICSC stand.

At the same time, the atrocities did not put attendees off from the job they came to do: discuss and debate the best strategies and practices in the current buoyant real estate market cycle. Indeed, a positive sentiment was evident among the broad range of groups at the fair, from the small boutique investment managers like Pradera to the likes of listed giants Unibail-Rodamco and Westfield.

Flood of data

The positive sentiment was amply reflected in the flood of data that poured out of Mapic this week. According to a report released by CBRE retail investment in Europe reached near-record levels in the third quarter of 2015 with €17 bn transacted. This marks an increase of 45% on Q3 2014 levels.

‘After a strong performance throughout the year, Q3 2015 is the second strongest quarter on record, just behind Q4 2006,’ said John Welham, head of European retail investment at CBRE. His peer at Cushman & Wakefield Jan-Willem Bastijn is going a step further and is predicting ‘the best year ever ever’ for retail investment in 2015.

There was plenty more research to feed on at the fair for real estate professionals looking for reasons to persuade the home front that their enthusiasm for Mapic has nothing to do with the all-pervasive sunshine and copious lunches at one of the beach restaurants on the Boulevard des Croisettes. Both CBRE/CBRE Global Investors and Redevco launched tools at the fair to help retailers and investors make strategic decisions about their investment locations.

‘The industry is becoming more and more sophisticated,’ Andrew Phipps, head of retail research and consulting at CBRE, told PropertyEU’s Investment Briefing at the stand of Bouwfonds Investment Management on Wednesday. His colleague Chris Gardener, senior director European retail investment at CBRE, endorsed that sentiment. ‘There’s plenty of data and research around for data junkies.’

New deals and ventures
Deal junkies in search of a fix at Mapic were not disappointed either. Last week I promised to report back on any new retail partnerships I might come across in Cannes and I am actually spoilt for choice. One venture that shows a new direction is McArthurGlen’s announcement that it has entered into a partnership with fashion and retail entrepreneur, Thomas Dankbar of Hütten Holding, the owner and developer of the Ochtrup outlet near Münster, northwest Germany. The new venture will see McArthurGlen take a majority stake in the Ochtrup outlet and become the manager of the 18,000 m2 centre.

The initiative follows McArthurGlen’s recapitalisation by US Simon Group, the heavyweight US retail REIT, and fits in with the outlet specialist’s broader strategy, Gary Bond, McArthurGlen’s managing director of development, told PropertyEU. ‘I hope this will be the first of many new partnerships across Europe.’

That interview was one of many held by the PropertyEU editorial team in Cannes. We look forward to dripfeeding the vast amount of input we received from our old and new contacts at Mapic in our digital and print vehicles in the coming weeks and months. Indeed, we have collectively had such a big fix of deals, data and new ideas in Cannes that we are planning a dedicated retail real estate supplement in Spring 2016.

To echo the sentiment expressed by ICSC’s Kercheval, it was heartening to see at Mapic that the spirit of collaboration within the European retail real estate industry is as strong as ever. Thank you to all those we met in Cannes for your time, enthusiasm and continued support of our own initiatives.

PS: PropertyEU added to the wave of new data pouring into the European retail real estate industry with the launch of the third edition of the European Retail Atlas together with ICSC. The publication will be formally presented at the ICSC Retail Strategy & Trends Forum in Berlin from 26 to 27 November.

Testata giornalistica non registrata ai sensi dell’Art.3 bis del D.L. 18 maggio 2012, n. 63 convertito in Legge 16.07.2012 n°103

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