Eduardo Ceballos, representing the Spanish Association of Shopping Centres and Business Parks (AECC)
Pedro Teixeira, representing the Portuguese Council of Shopping Centers (APCC)
Gontran Thuring, representing the French Council of Shopping Places (CNCC)
Christine Hager, representing the German Council of Shopping Places (GCSP)
For Company Members:
Mikhail Pecherskiy, representing ADG Group
Patrick Delcol, representing BNP Paribas RE
Alex Florescu, representing NEPI Rockcastle
Henrike Waldburg, representing Union Investment
As honorary Member:
John Strachan, from True Global
Peter Wilhelm, Chairman of the Executive Board, and Joost Koomen, Secretary General, would like to thank all Members for their attendance, support and dedication to the Council, and congratulate the new Executive Board Members for their election.
On 29 March 2021, the European Council of Shopping Places released a position paper responding to the financial impact of Covid-19 on the retail property sector. The uncertainty of repeated lockdowns, the inconsistent approach of different governments, and the overly onerous focus on retail property owners to support an industry in crisis is not sustainable. In its paper, ECSP calls on the relevant authorities to urgently consider the following measures that could help mitigate the impact and risk associated with the pandemic on Europe’s retail property sector. Read more here.
As part of our ‘Vibrant Cities: Shopping Places Matter’ campaign, we spoke to Roberto Limetti, member of the ECSP Executive Board on behalf of founding member CNCC Italy, the Italian Council of Shopping Places to tell us what he thinks makes a vibrant centre attractive.
Shopping places are an essential part of every community. Success can often depend on a variety of different values and elements. Roberto gives his views below.
What does a shopping place look like?
A shopping place to me looks like…life. Shopping places will always be the heart of our local communities. If I were to use an image, I would say that a shopping place is a ‘covered piazza’, where the community can buy the things they need and want, but also come together to enjoy social events, concerts and sports. It is also a place that public authorities can use as a hub and a point of reference for important community services. The best example at the moment is how many shopping places are being used as Covid-19 testing and vaccination points.
What are the key drivers to success?
Success is dependent on serving the everyday needs of the individual customer as well as the broader community in which it operates. However, loyalty is often anchored off the shopping experience where customers keep going back because they enjoy spending time there. As such, a modern shopping place is often an eclectic mix of retail but also leisure (cinema, playgrounds, family entertainment centres), sports (gyms, sport facilities), culture (museums, exhibitions), services (post offices, public administration offices, co working spaces), health care (clinics, dental care, medical hubs).
How do shopping places add to the vibrancy of urban centres?
A vibrant shopping place goes beyond simply fulfilling the needs of the community it serves. It is an extension of the urban centre itself, woven into the fabric of the local environment, becoming a desired destination where people want to go and where the community can come together safely to enjoy their free time. It can also be a focus for private and public initiatives, innovation and investment.
What’s next, what are shopping places prioritising at the moment?
Shopping centres will have a fundamental role in getting back to “normality” as quickly as possible, when the time is right. Until then, the most important thing is to rebuild customer confidence following extended lockdowns and closures due to the Covid-19 crisis. Shopping places have always offered a safer experience and Covid-19 has not changed this. Since the beginning of the pandemic, shopping places have adhered to the highest hygiene and safety standards recommended by authorities to prevent any outbreaks. In addition, a single shopping place with one management team is far more able to coordinate and deliver all of the health requirements to ensure a protected environment.
Welcome to the second in our series of podcasts from the European Council of Shopping Places and its members. This week Joost Koomen, the ECSP’s Secretary General, is joined by Roberto Limetti, Managing Director of Pradera and a member of the ECSP Executive Board on behalf of founding member CNCC Italy, the Italian Council of Shopping Places, and Luis Mota Duarte, Chief Financial Officer of Sonae Sierra, a major property company and full real estate services provider as well as founding member of ECSP.
The speakers discussed what a successful shopping place looks like, why they matter to the communities they are located in and what support they need during the Covid-19 crisis.
Peter Wilhelm, ECSP Chairman and CEO of Wilhelm & CO, and Joost Koomen, Secretary General of ECSP, met with the Spanish magazine Centros Comerciales to discuss the association’s mission and strategy for 2021.
They looked into the current challenges the industry is facing due to the Covid-19 crisis and also covered how different authorities are addressing these issues, on EU and national level.
On 3rd March over 130 participants attended an ECSP workshop to discuss the impact of Covid-19 on lease agreements in the retail sector, bringing together senior legal experts from across Europe.
The pandemic has had a major impact on the retail sector, leading to the forced closure of hundreds of thousands of shops, bars, restaurants, and leisure facilities across the EU. It is an unprecedented crisis that has also had a disproportionate impact on landlords in the retail property sector.
Hosted by ECSP’s legal working group, speakers discussed a variety of topics impacting the landlord tenant relationship as governments introduced various national and regional lockdown measures. These included the validity and continuity of existing leases; requests to renegotiate contractual terms; the application of rent releases; as well as the various relief measures and subsidies granted to tenants. The panellists also looked into the different approaches adopted by several countries across Europe, comparing France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, UK and Ukraine.
For more information on ECSP working group activities and for details on future events, please contact Joost Koomen at email@example.com.
24 + EU country-by-country analysis of lockdown measures impacting Shopping Centres across Europe
Today, Europe’s leading association representing the retail property industry and Shopping Places has launched an online interactive map showing what lockdown measures are in place in 24 countries as well as at the EU level.
It will be updated as measures evolve to provide a comprehensive and comparative guide to how different markets are managing the pandemic and the impact this is having on one of Europe’s most important industries.
It summarises the restrictions that are in place and whether there are any support measures being made available.
Ana Moita, Head of Marketing Europe and New Markets at Sonae Sierra, a member of ECSP, explains how shopping places have adapted to the health and safety challenge this Christmas.
More than ever this year, safe retail spaces are essential in our towns and cities to offer a moment of Christmas escape. At Sonae Sierra, we put the wellbeing of visitors first to ensure that visiting our shopping centres is carefree, fruitful and fun. This year, that means adding in safety measures that support in-person shopping in a responsible way, while continuing to help our tenants in every way we can in all the shopping centres we manage across Europe.
Managing visitor flows to our shopping centres is more significant than ever at this time. As well as creating communication campaigns encouraging shoppers to buy their Christmas gifts early, we have also piloted queue management systems, plus online booking platforms for visiting specific stores safely and comfortably. This also helps our tenants dedicate time to shoppers’ needs.
For centre visitors that arrive by car, we have rolled out traffic control systems to give our clients access to real time information about vehicle flows and parking in our shopping centres. This is available on the shopping centre website, its mobile app and through Chatbots. The information is conveyed with a traffic light system: green means ‘waiting for you’; amber means ‘approaching limit capacity’; while red means ‘please visit us later’. We are also piloting a mobile tool called “your car is here”, to help customers quickly and directly return to their vehicles.
Some other innovative services were implemented to offer more comfort to clients; the drive-in service at car park for clients to collect the purchases done online or by phone. The concierge service whereby customers request on the website of the shopping centre the products they have selected and the concierge team buy and collect those products, being delivered in the drive-in area at car park or at home, on the scheduled day and time slot.
Information can also be fun, as demonstrated by the success of a Pepper robot, a friendly and helpful humanoid, launched as a pilot in Colombo for the Christmas period with more than 100,000 interactions since September. We have now a new one in Norte Shopping, that has registered 2,735 total interactions after just six days.
Meanwhile, we have been helping children’s dreams come true by offering a Christmas video call with Santa Claus in almost all shopping centres managed by Sonae Sierra in different countries. The initiative has been so popular that it is fully booked until Christmas Eve nearly everywhere.
It wouldn’t be Christmas if we didn’t think about the most vulnerable and needy members of our communities. Some shopping centres have also selected a local charity to support via a special Christmas tree installation. The wishes of children are tagged on the tree; shoppers can buy the gifts mentioned and the centre delivers them to the institution.
Several centres are also taking extra special care of families affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Thousands of Christmas food baskets, reflecting local traditions, have been packaged and delivered to those in the catchment area hit particularly hard by the health crisis.
More than ever, this Christmas we need to support each other!
We asked Luc Plasman, General Manager of the Belgian and Luxembourg Council of Retail and Shopping Centers (BLSC), what the response has been to his members to the Covid challenge and what he believes will help the sector to succeed beyond the pandemic.
For most people, Christmas is the one time of the year when they have the chance to gather with family and friends, but this year will be very different. The same applies to our Christmas shopping habits. In Belgium and Luxembourg there are several restrictions in place: everyone must shop alone, there is limited capacity in shops and social distancing and masks are mandatory. In addition, restaurants and bars are closed. All this results in much less social contact, undermining the community spirit as well as a direct impact on the retail sectors in terms of sales and footfall.
As with many sectors, these are also particularly challenging times for retail property owners, whose centres are often the heart and soul of many towns and cities across Europe. This is one of the many reasons why our shopping centre managers and their marketing teams have been particularly innovative in creating initiatives that reassure consumers that their centres are safe places to visit, whilst also promoting the Christmas spirit and the feeling of community. That’s why we have still put all our Christmas decorations up.
In terms of the health and safety measures that have been put in place, consumers have also been asked to space out their visits to shopping centres as much as possible over opening hours. Where authorities have allowed, centres are also open on Sundays.
During the first week after reopening nonessential shops, consumers behaved in a responsible way and, in general, followed the rules that have been put in place to ensure their shopping experience is safe.
In order to bring consumers back to our shopping places once the Covid-19 crisis is under control, retailers and landlords must work together to tackle their respective challenges following the pandemic. The only way traditional centres will be able to compete against ecommerce and online platforms is if we work better together.
Nevertheless, we are confident that the combination of well-managed, diversified and safe shopping places that continue to innovate will remain attractive to many consumers around Europe. Offering a physical shopping experience, that combines food & beverage and leisure elements, is what people appreciate. As humans we like to touch and feel and to look and see the things we want to buy. It is the experience that is our strongest proposition.
As a sector we remain confident of a promising future for our vibrant shopping places. We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2021!