Commercial Property Blog
All posts tagged: BCSC
I arrived up from London on Monday afternoon, registered for the main conference and prepared my material in readiness for the busy day I had on Tuesday.
As I had nine meetings scheduled for the following day, I decided to have a rather demure evening with a firm of lawyers that works on behalf of some of our Shopping Centre Fund portfolio.
In order to start the day in the right way I had an hour work out at the gym at my hotel and bumped into Stuart Moncur of Cushman & Wakefield who was going gold on the treadmill! With endorphins engaged I was ready to start the day!
After breakfast with a former joint venture partner, I had four successful meetings. Happy with the progress made, I headed over to view my colleague Andrew Rich chair a seminar on “where to find investment performance”. The conclusion was that prime shopping centres remain a solid investment for income but if you have the appetite then opportunities in secondary could drive out performance in a few years.
After a lunch with the BCSC New Generation committee members I went back to the conference to conclude my meetings.
The sentiment I left with was that there are a number of acquisitive retailers willing to lease space at the right schemes, albeit there is still a big conversation to be had on rental level and the overall packages being offered.
It was encouraging to speak to a number of emerging retailers who are seeking to expand in a rather difficult market: A welcome positive in a world currently filled with far too much doom and gloom!
I am currently standing in the C&W stand kitchen writing this it’s the only spare and quiet space on the stand!
Day two at BCSC has been busy everywhere, particularly on our stand during the wagamama feeding frenzy! All jokes aside we must thank wagamama for a superb effort at lunchtime today cooking food for over 300 people and spreading the word about the requirements for their ‘aggressive’ expansion over the next few years.
In the main conference, David Smith of the Sunday Times kicked off with a balanced view of the economy which was reinforced by Sir Richard Lambert (ex-CBI chief) who called for more entrepeneureal zip!
Kensington and Chelsea Council Leader (also local government chief) referred to the zip his council was putting into a new Exhibition Road area through his ‘naked streets’. Roger Madelin robustly rounded off the day suggesting that sex, from mixing cultures, occupations and uses, was the clear foundation for Kings Cross mixed-use development
All of the panel sessions were fully booked, with Next making themselves famous within the conference for their positivity regarding the market. It’s been highly refreshing to hear no mention of the double dip, people are clearly seeing a more upbeat outlook and are keen to get on and do business.
A great example of this is House of Fraser who impressed in their presentation with talk of their ‘affordable luxury’ offer, expansion into the Middle East, store refurbishments and their new UK offer ‘Buy and Collect’.
The first buy and collect store is opening in Aberdeen in three weeks and we’re working hard with them on the second store opening (location to follow). The freestanding stores will offer changing rooms and collection points, we can’t wait to give them a try!
In the exhibition hall it’s been very evident that the supermarkets are out in force this year with a lot of chat about Morrisons’ and Asda’s expansion plans. There is no question many developers are refreshing new and old development projects and out market testing occupational demand. Even if a small amount of this moves forward we can look forward to a leasing frenzy at BCSC in 2015.
Quality stands from Land Securities, CSC and Hammerson showcase the product, both existing assets and pipeline. All the principal UK multiple retailers are here, happy to talk shop. All in all, a good buzz around the place.
Everyone is gearing up for a big evening of drinks, dinner and networking.
After a quiet first couple of hours, giving a sense of opening night at the theatre, the BCSC conference has got off to a fantastic start with a busy first day.
The two big questions being asked are ‘what’s next in the retail development pipeline?’ and ‘what on earth are the police doing with fire extinguishers and bottles of beer outside the conference centre?!’
It’s been great to see so many retailers visiting our stand and it seems BCSC have got it spot on with the theme ‘evolve: time to think differently’ if the discussions going on about how to do things differently are anything to go by.
The retailer stands offer something for every appetite especially ‘food store corner’ where Tesco, Asda, Waitrose, The Co-Op and Morrisons are all going strong with their stands.
Interesting to see the different treats being offered by the stands this year, there’s literally something for everyone with Asda handing out doughnuts, Morrisons decorating their stand with fresh vegetables and Poundland lining the walls with boxes of chocolates!
One trend we’ve noticed already is the number of towns taking the initiative to come along to BCSC and exhibit. Northwich, Daventry, Peterborough, Newport, Woking, Tallaght, Guildford, Stoke, Scunthorpe, Evesham, Coventry and Warwickshire all getting in on the action.
We see this as the start of a new trend for the future with towns developing their brand rather than relying solely on developers, lets watch this space and see how many are here next year! The Realis/ City Sentral stand being a great example of town centre promotion.
We’ve embraced all things digital on the C&W stand this year with a social media display giving the latest updates on BCSC and the retail industry from Twitter, intriguing to see the human side of the conference with everything being tweeted from people’s journeys to Manchester and rumours of celebrity appearances from Vanilla Ice and CBeebies!
The QR codes issued by BCSC in the show guide are a great step forward too and it makes us wonder what technology will be in use at future BCSC conferences and indeed in the shopping centres of the future.
Welcome party starting in a minute, everyone in the mood to party and do some business.
Like 1800 other people, I am heading up to Manchester again for the BCSC Conference & Exhibition. It’s always a great event, pitched somewhere between academic and educational excellence, marketing and sales excess and party extreme. The bridge between all of the activities is the opportunity to network, socialise and banter!
The programme for the three days is built around the theme Evolve – time to think differently. I think BCSC have pitched that absolutely right given the challenges the retail industry currently faces. A difficult economy, stalled development programme and many declining high streets. This certainly requires a different approach and new thinking.
Kaye Adams TV and radio broadcaster will therefore have to work hard in her role as conference facilitator to draw out these new ideas, different thinking and most of all stimulate ideas around solutions.
The conference sessions will focus in particular on three themes:
Firstly, the economy and how the Government and industry can stimulate growth in the property sector.
Secondly, the ongoing debate regarding the benefits and drawbacks of the national planning framework and localism agenda under the Coalition Government.
Thirdly, the approach to regeneration and how to stimulate viable retail development and put some shape on the future of our town centres in the light of the Portas Review.
The emphasis in the exhibition hall has shifted from selling new development space, to a renewed focus on active asset management and recycling and enhancing existing assets. This has not stopped a sell out of the stands with the usual strong showing of the major property companies and agents, with retailers this year exhibiting being Asda, Poundland and Morrisons.
I will personally be interested to feel the “pulse” of the industry, and get a better sense of the consensus of where people think the best chance of renewed development activity will be – large city centre eg Sheffield or smaller market town centre eg Hinckley, where development proposals are on the blocks. Sources of development finance will be critical.
The opening of Stratford City this Tuesday is a fantastic boost and I will be interested to hear feedback on the scheme, and initial thoughts on potential retailer performance.
I was there for the opening and congratulations to all at Westfield, CPP and APG. It was a “stella” event. Particularly notable was the in-store atmosphere created by some of brands like The Sting, Apple and All Saints and by Westfield in the Great Eastern Market food hall area.
It will also be interesting to hear more context on the supposed occupational north/south divide. For me however, the key issue is the future role of some town centres in a social context, and in what form and quantity can retail play a part in that.
In many respects this offers to be an even more stimulating conference than previous events, where the focus was on regeneration through development boom and shifting large quantities of floor space. The issues facing the industry now are far more complex, highly political and socially challenging as evidenced by the recent riots around the UK.
It will be interesting to see how BCSC and particularly the exhibition evolves in the future, with perhaps the opportunity for local authorities and bodies interested in promoting town centres may be taking a more central marketing role?
We’re all gearing up this end for the BCSC Conference next week.
It will be strange going to the conference in September rather than November as in previous years but hopefully there could be a prospect of signing retailers up before the end of the year!
I have spent the past few days prepping and checking final arrangements; I anticipate that it will be the busiest it has been for a few years based on the conversations that I’ve had with a number of retail agents.
The main focus for me will be to engage with retailers and their advisors in order to be best placed to promote our schemes, listen to their requirements and make informed judgements (while of course making sure they are a sound fit for us too!). I have had some very positive conversations to date however I am not going to prejudge sentiment prior to the event.
It will be interesting to understand the proposed expansion plans of the retailers at this year’s conference as much has been written about the economy over the last few months; just today, ONS has released August retail sales growth figures which reveal a marginal fall of 0.1% in retail sales volumes compared to last year, leading to weak consumer confidence; I am interested to see how this plays out on sentiment next week.
I’m looking forward to this year’s conference and updating you further on my Blog as the week progresses.
The age old debate over whether upwards only rent reviews are fair and whether they should be prohibited has taken an interesting turn in Ireland following the pledge by Fine Gael and Labour to retrospectively ban them if they win power this week.
If anyone ever wondered the effects such a decision might have in reality, one potential outcome has been clearly demonstrated by reports of the proposed sale of Liffey Valley Shopping Centre being put on hold as a result of the announcement. If true it is not a great advert for how investors will potentially treat the Irish market with this concept in place. One would presumably need a level playing field on rent review legislation across Europe to prevent alienating a single market which prohibits upwards only reviews. And certainly for Ireland, without the UK continuing as stalwart of upwards only reviews (not likely seeing as we are still kicking the Human Rights Act ball around a generation later).
I am sure (I think) that the pledge has not been made lightly and much thought and analysis was undertaken before the announcement. However anyone hoping this might create a ripple effect in the UK will no doubt be dismayed.
If this becomes a reality, we will soon see if it acts as yet another pin in the Irish property bubble. It's difficult not to see it causing rewritten valuation reports overnight. Personally, with my vague hopes of retiring before I am 80 currently resting entirely with an institutional pension fund (whose returns are to some material extent built on upward only rent reviews being legal), I have never been entirely swayed by the tenants' camp on this one unless I'm negotiating a lease for one. Perhaps also because it is usually the big-time retailers who have bothered to lobby for legislation of this nature; their negotiating strength often presents as a 'cake and eat it' argument.
Having, with my team, negotiated a hat full of short term leases and index linked/turnover leases during the downturn, I have witnessed good old market forces doing the job, especially in the sub prime retail market which is where it counts most to me in these difficult times. It is hard to see where polarisation of the market towards prime will end at present.
Edward Cooke at BCSC summed up, in his recent reaction to increasingly poor void level data, with his recognition that this is not a "cyclical" issue but a "structural" one. Wise words, with which I wholly agree, as we see the increasing need for a wholesale change in use of the empty high street shops and older style shopping centre retail space that has piled up. This recession has always screamed the need for price correction and that would echo with all the failed retail businesses of the last three years.
We have had the price of borrowing money rocket and send us into the downturn, and now the threat of inflation is attacking the retail sector from the other direction.
Perhaps this bold proposal in Ireland will move its price correction along another stage whilst the UK, in its old fashioned way, manages its way through slowly without upsetting valuation principles too much. Personally, being reliant professionally on the flow of investment deals into the market, I am a fan of any tools to get prices "right" and the market flowing.
I hope the Irish get this decision right if they do legislate and it's a good shot in the arm. I worry though that it may ultimately be seen as the sort of action you take if your economy and property market is particularly stricken?
I'm always told by international clients that other European countries have far more flexible leasing arrangements than the UK does and yet it's never really impacted on our lease models. Perhaps though the lasting effects of the downturn will be new benchmarks in lease term length. I wonder if Fine Gael and Labour pondered that as an alternative; it can have the same effect but maybe it's not as headline grabbing.
Last week was of course the BCSC Annual Dinner and presentation of the Gold Awards 2010. A little dusting of snow did little to suppress my interest in attending and it was a full house as always at the Grosvenor House Hotel.
Outstanding as all the retail entries undoubtedly were, the ultimate Gold Award for my money has to go to an individual, rather than a shopping centre, and that award goes to Rory Bremner. The man is a genius and in his own inimitable style reminded our industry that whilst it generates huge economic benefit to the country, we should not take ourselves too seriously!
During a period in the market when we talk about very limited development pipeline, it was good to be reminded that this year the industry still produced four absolutely exceptional developments in the form of Eldon Square South Newcastle, St David’s Cardiff, Southgate Bath and Union Square Aberdeen. These schemes alone added over 2m sq ft of space and all are now predominantly fully leased.
It was equally clear that retailers continue to innovate with shop fits such as the quality of Apple at Covent Garden, Costa on Great Portland Street and The Sting at Piccadilly Circus, with the Retailer of the Year Award going to Waitrose.
It is fantastic that BCSC is able to pull together such a quality gathering and networking event, which yet again provided another forum for plotting and planning the shopping centre developments of the future.
More great stuff to come next year including a not so modest mega scheme by Westfield at Stratford London.
Let’s get Rory Bremner pre-let now for the dinner next year!
Justin is CEO of UK Retail at Cushman & Wakefield
BCSC and MAPIC were yet again a welcome reality check in terms of the retail development pipeline and occupier commitment.
Back in the UK and reflecting on the whirlwind of the past 3 weeks I’m pleased to say that both events have bolstered my confidence, particularly the strong levels of European wide occupier demand - a pleasant contradiction to negative press coverage of late.
The retail market has always been dynamic and has great capacity to adapt. Interestingly, the occupier stands at BCSC this year were dominated by the foodstores including the Co-Op, plus value retailers Wilkinson, Poundland and Store Twenty One which just goes to illustrate the importance of the value driven occupier sector in the UK at present.
As you’d expect it got even hotter in the South of France with MAPIC opening to the breaking news that Forever 21 had paid a £14m premium for the HMV lease on Oxford Street. Teams from Superdry, Motivi, Desigual, and Abercrombie & Fitch and many others were out in force in full throttle expansion mode.
No one wanted to miss an opportunity with the likes of Mango taking a stand for the first time in 10 years - yet a further sign of the increasing levels of competition.
We should not underestimate the importance of international brands on the UK retail scene and indeed we welcome them with open arms. However, are we as keen to embrace their model of index linked leases, in favour of our traditional (some might say unattractive) UK open market rent review model?
The reality is that we have moved from a supply driven industry to one where asset management and therefore occupier demand are key. In the UK, the occupiers’ ability to respond to changing consumer confidence in the light of impending public sector cuts, the impending rise in VAT and the knock on impact on spending patterns, particularly multichannel, will be major differentiators of success.
It will be very interesting to see how much influence these top international brands will have on the market and what this could mean for rental growth. Only time will tell? What we can be sure of, based on this year’s experience, is there won’t be much let up in activity any time soon, and that BCSC and MAPIC will be even busier next year !
Justin Taylor is CEO UK Retail & Leisure Teams at Cushman and Wakefield
What a difference a year makes!! Returning to Manchester for the annual BCSC, I am finding the conference to be in fine form - well attended and a real sense of purpose within the hall supported by an eagerness from both landlords and retailers to deal.
The quality of stands appear to reflect this sentiment, with the supermarket contingent making a particularly special effort. The same words can be applied to the female delegates at the conference - the fashion stakes have been firmly raised!!
The ladies have made a real effort - from chic Chanel-esque suits for the more mature to flirty frocks and immaculately cut trouser suits and separates.
One particular lady dared to wear LK Bennett's rather slinky leopard print dress.
The BCSC can pose a number of female fashion quandaries - the crippling effect of wearing four inch heels for what seems like 72 hours being the foremost problem.
Another problem is converting day wear into evening wear as busy itineraries make it difficult to find the time to change.
This is where the LBD is at its most versatile and will carry any lady from night into day with aplomb - the BCSC ladies had gauged this well and its good to see the LBD has been on full display.
Whistles is always a good option for fabulous work wear providing a great range of this seasons key separates together with perfect day into night dresses.
The appearance of this season’s ubiquitous camel coat illustrated that the BCSC ladies are firmly in touch with their fashion sensibilities. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the male contingent, in the male surveying fashion stakes the pink shirt and pin stripe suit were vying for pole position.
Recently I was told of a friends’ colleague who had dared to don a rather elegant blue and white bold pin strip shirt complete with white collars and cuffs and topped off with a red tie. It certainly was not cheap.
Now, this colleague was of an age and physique where the wearing of such an ensemble at one time in the property market, and in the not too distant past, would not be particularly commented upon and especially as he carried it off with aplomb.
However, by mid morning this poor chap had been bombarded with taunts of “lunch is for wimps” and an inbox brimming with pictures of Gordon Geckko.
The harassment by his colleagues, for daring to break the shirt mould albeit in a particularly idiosyncratic way, perfectly highlights the pack mentality of most surveyors and their attachment to a uniform – its like a security blanket, and clutching it confirms or reaffirms their membership of the property club.
With this years very welcome one week gap between BCSC and MAPIC there is the perfect opportunity to recharge the batteries and ditch the doldrums of Manchester winter attire for the dying embers of summer glamour of Cannes. It also gives the male population one week to source a good shirt!
I would like to make a statement - The property industry isn’t known for its fashion forward thinking…Discuss.
I suggest that this would be a very short and not very interesting conversation!
Most white collar professional men play it very safe and leave it to the media and creative industries – you know those types – drainpipe jeans, quirky blazers, skinny ties, Liberty print shirts – to explore ‘fashion’.
Property types would rather admit they were state educated than wear that “get up”. Male members of the pack essentially confuse items which are commonly worn by their contemporaries and colleagues as ‘fashionable’ which is similar to judging everything by simply looking in a mirror at oneself!
A property man’s foray into fashion is almost non existent – Hilditch & Key, Pinks and TM Lewin shirts, Church’s brogues and a suit from Jaeger or somewhere similar are the uniform of choice. The biggest fashion decision a male in the industry will make is whether to kick the week off with a white shirt or a pink shirt; or push the boundaries and sport a striped or checked shirt – although this latter little number is usually reserved for the end of the week, as the wearer seeks to adopt a more “relaxed / at home” look, perhaps combined with some ‘chinos’ if dressing down is de rigour. The only concession to ‘fashion’ might involve the colour and/or width of the pin of one’s pin stripe suit and the boldness and type of silk selected for the tie, but that’s the lot. Any departure from the standard uniform is met with much ridicule and ribald finger pointing. As to wearing ‘Brown’ shoes in ‘town’ don’t get me started!
This is not intended to be an exclusively male rant, for there are women in the property industry who have lost their fashion mojo (or in some instances, were never acquainted with it). One doesn’t expect women to come to work everyday perfectly attired and glossy a la Cheryl Cole (we’ve got deals to do!) but speaking from experience, making an effort does make for a cheerier disposition and a feel good factor.
An ensemble of black is the equivalent of a professional woman’s security blanket – slimming, hassle free, takes one from day to night and most importantly, hides the red wine stains – but, how dull and wearisome!
No matter how raging your hangover is and how brimming your laundry basket is, one must refuse the calling of the black nylon security blanket – step away from the garment and embrace your individuality!
Black trousers are the sole preserve of lawyers, toiling away in their mid town office blocks. West End and City property ladies have much more spark so dress accordingly!
By way of this blog, I’m hoping to raise awareness of fashion in the property industry – I realise that I’m setting myself a colossal task, but even if one property man (or gal) out there gets what an Alexa bag or J Brand Houlihans are, I’ll have succeeded! I’m not expecting to see a plethora of men wondering around Hanover Square in skinny jeans, but a better awareness of what contributes to £21 billion of the UK economy.
The ladies and gentlemen of the City will have no excuses for fashion faux pas. Land Securities’ Jean Nouvel-designed One New Change opened on their door step yesterday. With retailers such as Banana Republic and Reiss offering affordable, enduring pieces there will be no mercy shown for lacklustre office attire.
A blow dry at Hersheson for lunch with Mr Ramsey followed by a quick spin around Kurt Geiger for some new heels (a well deserved treat) is a very alluring proposal.