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FEATURE: COMMERCIALISATION

In Or Out?

A

sset Space was launched at the start of 2008 as the asset management division of outsourcing company Asset Factor – a JV with Helical Bar. Bryony Crowther, who was appointed managing director, describes it’s unique selling point as “a subsidiary company providing niche services in the commercial property world”.

Crowther headed up commercialisation and marketing at Savills

before becoming head of the same department in Jones Lang LaSalle’s shopping centre management team. “In asset management, everyone asks what exactly they are getting for their money, but I never heard this question being asked of marketing or commercialisation budgets. You asset manage your company to get the best return, so why can’t you bring that principle down onto the mall itself?” With this philosophy that every pound spent on marketing

and commercialisation should be demonstrably worthwhile, Asset Space aims to bring commercialisation in line with the transparency and cost-effectiveness employed elsewhere. Describing the options available to landlords putting on commercialisation activity, Crowther says: “Some landlords are big enough to justify their own commercialisation team in-house, but if your portfolio is smaller then it isn’t possible or worthwhile.” Traditionally, the alternative for smaller landlords was to devolve

responsibility to the asset manager or managing agent, or to the centre manager. But Crowther argues that, while each of these roles plays a vital part in the running of a centre, the growth of commercialisation puts extra pressure on managers whose core responsibilities lie elsewhere. “Shopping centre managers have to look after the tenants and keep them happy; asset managers are concerned with the financial side of the centre as a whole. They don’t have the time to keep on top of a rapidly changing industry.” So Asset Space provides a viable fourth option: outsourcing.

Crowther acts as landlords’ eyes and ears in the world of commercialisation, and passes all her contacts and industry knowledge back to each centre. “It’s my job to know exactly what’s happening: what kind of operators are out there and which is best for the job; who occupies RMUs and promotional space in a shopping centre and what they give back to the shoppers.” A major bonus is that smaller landlords can add their centre to

Asset Space’s growing portfolio, giving them extra leverage while still being cheaper than hiring a team in-house. “There’s no single place that brands can go to select and book promotional space and RMUs in shopping centres. We can provide brands with the details of every centre in our portfolio, no matter how big or small. It makes smaller centres more visible in the industry, and brands will come to us to start a campaign across any number of our centres.” While Hammerson is large enough to have its own marketing and

The plight of secondary centres has become more important than ever. But with lower budgets and commercial values, in-house commercialisation teams aren’t an option for smaller centres. So is specialist outsourcing the answer?

“Big landlords justify commercialisation teams in-house; if you’re smaller then it isn’t possible or worthwhile”

commercialisation department, its retail park portfolio is outsourced to Asset Space. “Our shopping centres generate a substantial amount of revenue so having people onsite is a good thing,” begins Stephen Court, Hammerson’s head of retail marketing and commercialisation. “But retail parks are very different. They have lower footfall and are often in more peripheral areas, lowering their commercial value to advertisers and sponsors.” Like smaller centres, retail parks don’t warrant internal

commercialisation teams. So instead Court looked for operators with the market knowledge to carry out high quality commercialisation

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