Working at Grosvenor Fund Management, one has the unique privilege of being immersed in a philosophy that has grown from the development and management of world-leading urban real estate.
The development by Grosvenor of Mayfair, Belgravia and Pimlico, a journey that started more than 300 years ago, has deeply affected the company’s DNA.
This drive to create living places and manage them for the long term is what led us to develop Annacis Island, Vancouver, in the 1950s and create Liverpool One, a 42-acre regeneration project in Liverpool City Centre that now comprises over 165 shops, more than 500 apartments, two hotels, 25 restaurants, a 14-screen Odeon cinema, 28,000 sq ft of offices and a five-acre park. Opened in 2008, it was recently recognised as one of the most innovative developments of the past 20 years at the Property Awards.
This could not have been achieved without the benefit of a strong partnership with Liverpool City Council, our co-investors and the key retailers in the scheme.
By taking a partnership approach we were able to create something that benefits all the stakeholders, most notably the residents of Liverpool and the surrounding area.
Although the timing of the scheme was not ideal, with an opening date so close to the global financial crisis, it is this partnership and the patience of a 300 year-old company that has allowed us to persist and make Liverpool One a top performer.
Through proactive management we have grown the catchment area by 73% since opening and the city has progressed from 17th to fifth in Experian’s ranking of UK’s cities for retail. Sales increased 7% in 2014 and footfall reached 27.5 million people for the first time. More than 20 new brands have opened in Liverpool One in the past 12 months, many making their regional debut. Year-to-date sales are up 15% on the same period in 2014.
Grosvenor’s ability to look further ahead and develop a detailed understanding of the target visitor group has been key. We have been able to create an offer that not only matches their current needs and lifestyles, but captures trends in the evolution of experience-driven retail.
We recently concluded a modernisation of Liverpool One’s holding structure, a limited partnership with six institutional investors and a Grosvenor-owned general partner. This not only updated a structure that was put in place at the time of the development, but cements a stable long-term ownership and management strategy for this key asset.
While not all of our projects are as ambitious as Liverpool One, we apply the same principles to everything we do. For example, in Lyon, where we manage 600,000 sq ft of retail, residential and office space along the leading shopping street, we take an estate-management approach. We opened a joint office with the property manager, located on the estate and created a coherent and integrated branding strategy for the three sectors by working with the local authority and other stakeholders. Our aim is to make our portfolio the next destination of choice for international retailers after Paris. Driving value is about thinking beyond simple rent roll and tenancy agreements.
Sweden tells a similar story. Our five Swedish shopping centres comprise the effective town centres for their catchment areas. Our approach is to add value through improving the experience and this includes the provision of local services as much as it does the latest fashion retailer.
Grosvenor Fund Management continues to take a long-term approach and look at opportunities where we can leverage our unique corporate DNA to create value for a range of stakeholders.
Giles Wintle is regional director - Europe at Grosvenor Fund Management