There’s going to be a lot of food at the Mapic retail real estate fair this year.Held on Nov. 15 to 17 in Cannes, France, the trade show has conferences and networking sessions planned on the subject as well as space for showing new food concepts. There will also be a tasting area.“It’s the evolution of the industry that drove us to this choice as a theme,” said Nathalie Depetro, Mapic director.“Whether it’s in shopping centers, factory outlets or city centers, today food and beverage has become a very important part of the customer experience,” Depetro added.Organizers teamed up with the food advisory arm of JLL, a real estate group formerly known as Jones Lang LaSalle, for the focus.James Brown, retail research director at JLL points to the emergence of the so-called ‘experience economy’, where younger generations like Millennials favor experiences over acquiring things as one of the main reasons for the growing importance of food in the retail world. The trend is spreading to all ages, he explains, and is having a profound effect on the retail industry.In just 10 years, according to Brown, retail space allocated to food has risen from 5 percent to between 10 and 15 percent in some European markets and 8 percent in the U.S. Brown estimates the proportion to reach 20 percent by 2025. New developments tend to set aside around 20 to 25 percent to food, and even exceed 40 percent in some places in Asia, he adds.One conference on the subject will ask whether the growing demand for food offers could help offset the decline of traditional shopping mall formats. Another one will focus on how to turn transit zones into food destinations, with a panel of speakers including Nick Scapira, a strategy director for the Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group. The company recently opened an American style diner at the London Gatwick airport, with a restaurant, bar and take-away deli.The Belgian chocolate brand Leonidas, which is pushing business through coffee corners, plans to set up two of them at the fair. Caffe Pascucci, an Italian brand looking for investors to expand, will try to emulate the atmosphere of its coffee shops at its stand, where it will offer coffee.French startup Alavance, which seeks to link consumers with restaurants, is launching its app at the Mapic conference.Fair organizers expect around 8,500 people at the event from 80 countries. Around 700 companies will be exhibiting, an increase of about 2 percent, according to Depetro. Developers will represent the largest group at 2,500, followed by retailers numbering 2,100 and 1,000 investors are expected.“There are not many events in the world to have such a large amount of buyers at a professional, international fair,” noted Depetro.Around 10 percent of the retailers present this year will hail from the food and beverage sector with around 34 percent from fashion and accessories brands.Matalan, the inexpensive fashion brand, is a newcomer this year, as well as Estée Lauder and Alibaba, according to Depetro.Kicking off the conference will be a speech from the French director of Alibaba, Sébastien Badault. The former Amazon and Google executive will talk about the future of the retail sector.Franck Laizet, a McKinsey & Co. partner, in a conference session about a vision for retail of the future will recount his firm’s view on how consumer behavior is changing.For the tradeshow’s innovation forum, which will include a start-up lounge, dozens of conference and pitching sessions, with over 50 companies exhibiting, Mapic organizers teamed up with the online software company Salesforce.Companies need to improve the ways they use data, which will have to be handled as fast as possible — in real time — as well as with artificial intelligence, noted Guillaume Aurine, a marketing director for the company. The company plans to show how artificial intelligence can intervene in interaction between connected shoppers and connected retailers to come up with new strategies for pricing and products, according to Aurine.Reflecting the industry’s obsession with ‘experience’, Mapic this year has also carved out a space for the topic of ‘leisure.’ Chief among participants in this discussion is a newcomer to the fair, Europa City. Billed as Europe’s biggest entertainment village, the plans for the urban development include hotels, restaurants, shopping centers and concert halls in a chunk of farmland north of Paris. The French supermarket company Auchan started the project, which has also drawn the support of Chinese company Dalian Wanda Group, which is injecting 3 billion euros into the project.Gaming exhibitor AiSolve will also be at Mapic again this year, to show the updates it has made in its WePlayVR products since last year’s edition.Samsung Electronics and Microlog will share insight about digital signage and Dilax, the company that manages flows of people traffic, will provide input into what can be learned from dwell times and customer routes.In terms of regional projects, European real estate investor Meyer Bergman will reveal their plans for the Vinopolis site next to London’s covered food market, Borough market.In France, the property operator Groupe IDEC will present its outlet project for the south of France, the Viaduc Village.Outlets are an important feature of Mapic, said Depetro, noting an increasing demand for them on a global level.Conferences on geographic markets include the US, with a focus on food; India, and the race for brands to tap into that market; Italy’s shopping centers and a slew of new development projects; and the interaction between tourism and shopping in Spain. JLL’s retail director for Asia, James Assersohn is on the roster of speakers about China, a market now facing the challenge of an oversupply of retail space. Turkish brands will be the focus of that market, and potential signs of brightening prospects for Russia and its Central and Eastern European neighbors will also be featured. Construction on a huge indoor theme park called Dream Island is set to begin in Russia next year.For the first time this year, Mapic will offer a conference on Africa.
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