Mapic real estate conference in Cannes, France

PARIS — As retailers push deeper into the digital realm, real estate trade show Mapic this year focuses on the pull of leisure activities and bulked-up offers of services.

The consumer landscape is moving fast, prompting widespread change and the need for retailers to move beyond the traditional realms of shopping, noted Nathalie Depetro, director of Mapic.

“We feel that the entire profession is mobilized to adapt to the new needs of consumers,” she said.

Being held Nov. 14 to 16 in Cannes, France, the fair’s conferences and networking sessions will focus on how retailers are navigating the merging of online and off-line retail. Organizers expect a slight increase in attendees from last year, with around 2,500 developers, 2,100 retailers, 1,000 investors and nearly 2,000 brands hailing from 80 countries.

Kicking off the event, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield chief executive officer Christophe Cuvillier will offer his view of the future for malls and how younger generations are triggering new strategies for stores to conduct business.

Mapic real estate conference in Cannes, France

Mapic real estate conference in Cannes, France.  Courtesy / V. DESJARDINS - IMAGE & CO

The executive created a global shopping center behemoth with the nearly $25 billion purchase of Westfield Corp., concluded this year, adding the Sydney-based company’s real estate holdings to those of the French company, stretching over 27 countries.

“We are very pleased that he’s opening Mapic…he has orchestrated an extraordinary merger in the history of commercial real estate, and will speak to us about his vision of commerce,” Depetro said. “We are on the same page with the view that the store of tomorrow, the physical store, has to offer experiences to clients and that social networks and digital marketing have to serve to drive clients into physical stores.”

Depetro noted that amid the change buffeting the sector, certain trends are emerging.

“We can see that the theme of online and online convergence is current and is becoming a virtuous cycle, wherein there is no longer off-line on one side and then online on the other, but rather they are feeding each other — one can no longer imagine commerce without both physical stores and an online presence,” she said.

Peter Epping, senior managing director and fund manager of the Hines pan-European core fund HECF, noted the forces and effects of change come in many forms. The U.S.-based real estate company was recently involved in two high-profile transactions in Paris — the purchases of the future Apple flagship on the Champs-Élysées and the future Saint Laurent store, which is replacing the Colette concept store.

“There are so many different effects that all happen at the same time, so it’s hard to just boil it down to one general statement — it affects every retailer quite differently,” he said. While some retailers are making use of large stores to carve out space for logistics and enhanced experiences to beef up business, others are struggling to remain fresh in order to compete with vast online offerings, he noted.

“Some online retailers are now going physical, which is great, and they are a significant source of demand,” he added.

Executives at Knight Frank in a recent study of the Paris market noted a number of recent store openings from Internet “pure-players,” citing La Redoute’s AMPM flagship and the first store from mattress seller Tediber.

Epping observed a gap between choice locations and secondary locations.

“I would say, just over the last three years…the biggest effect is really on secondary locations and secondary shopping centers — they are suffering a lot,” he said.

Changes in the industry are extending to the type of services that consumers expect, Depetro noted.

“We can see today that in commercial town centers, as with malls or in outlet stores, there is a search for new users and new labels, it’s no longer, I would say, fashion, fashion, fashion but also accessories, services, beauty as well as spas, fitness, climbing walls, family centers, spaces dedicated to kids, culture and education. That’s very, very important. But we’re also going to look at how tech and digital tools can help bring consumers to stores, with around 20 percent of sales being generated online. It doesn’t mean that there are less consumers but that they no longer buy things in the same place but instead, through different channels,” Depetro said.

Mapic outlet summit

Mapic outlet summit  Courtesy/ S. CHAMPEAUX - IMAGE & CO

The show itself has evolved to adapt to the shifting landscape, offering more conferences and networking tools, and adding to specialized summits before the event. Mapic is bringing back last year’s outlet summit, with more than 300 participants lined up, and is adding a leisure summit this year, featuring speakers from EuropaCity, Imax and Vente-Privée’s entertainment business. That summit will be held at the Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic on the Boulevard de la Croisette, across the street from the conference center, the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès.

“We will have a look at new outlet projects but we will also explore why there is a demand from brands like Nike, which will explain why for them it’s important to be in outlet malls and how outlet malls have become attractive commercial places. We will confront an online platform with the owner of an outlet mall to see which is the best place to buy at the best price,” Depetro added.

A French outlet project featured at Mapic 2018

A French outlet project featured at Mapic 2018  Courtesy

Continuing last year’s tradition, show organizers are offering catalogues of brands with the size of stores they’re looking for, cities and contacts. Fendi is attending for the first time, for example, as are Dolce & Gabanna, new Carven owner Icicle, and Trussardi. Zara teams are back this year, and H&M will also attend, organizers said.

An increasing number of technology and innovation directors figure among expected participants, they added.

Conferences on different markets around the world include the U.K., Russia, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, the Middle East, India and Asia.

When it comes to investments in Europe, Hines has its eye on particularly dynamic places on the Continent, noted Epping. “What we see in many cities in Europe is that not all locations have the stamina to do equally well,” he noted. Among cities the company is interested investing in are Milan, “where we’re seeing a real boom happening;” Copenhagen, which is pedestrianizing its city center, and Florence, which is a protected historic city where new shops can’t be built.

Among other hot topics at the fair this year is logistics and data, with speakers including Amazon’s French director and executives from Hammerson, Salesforce, Adidas, Accenture and Zalando.

“We have practically doubled the space for our innovation where there will be specialists offering tech and digital solutions, from well-known companies like IBM to start-ups — there will be around 30 exhibitors offering help to real estate companies connect stores and other commercial spaces be connected,” Depetro said.

Exhibitors in the entertainment section will include Ameco Playgrounds, experience design company Mycotoo, surf wave maker Citywave and virtual reality amusement park operator Arena Space.

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