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maintains a centre or retail park as interesting place to work and visit.” Hammerson hires its own UK portfolio commercialisation

controller – Susan Szabanowicz – who stands between Crowther and the asset managers. “Retail parks don’t need the full immersion that our shopping centres get, but we do need Susan as a consultant go- between. She has more specialist knowledge of commercialisation than the asset managers so can communicate with Asset Space to get things done more quickly,” adds Court. Having one point of contact, rather than a number of individual

asset managers in retail parks miles apart, makes it easier for the outsourced company to do its job. But it also provides asset managers with a means to communicate any issues they might have. “There was a time when asset managers were expected to do a lot of things outside their area of expertise. Commercialisation requires very different skills to land management,” Court explains. “But we need our asset managers to have a strong relationship with the outsourced company because they are key to the smooth running of each scheme.”

So while outsourcing is a cost effective way for smaller or

less commercially valuable schemes to build commercialisation programmes, it is important for the landlords themselves to keep a handle on things. In short, it’s not simply a case of blindly handing the reins over to a third party. Ross McCall, retail commercialisation manager at Cushman & Wakefield, advocates retaining at least some control internally. “By keeping a certain amount of commercialisation in-house,

centres can tie activity in with the retail mix and with long term goals and aspirations,” argues McCall. “A long term view is very important. It used to be all about money, but commercialisation has matured as an industry and now landlords are being far more creative.” McCall looks after commercialisation across several C&W schemes, many of which are local centres like Idlewells in Nottinghamshire. Here, McCall focuses on forming relationships with partners in the community who “won’t pay the big bucks but will provide mutual benefits in the long term”. One initiative at Idlewells brought in the local scuba diving club, kitted out in full diving gear plus boat, to raise awareness of their company and encourage people to get involved. “It was a marketing event, but we can convert it into a commercial

“Our aim is always to work in conjunction with agencies, rather than giving up everything to them”

activities in a retail park environment. “We didn’t want someone just to sell empty space, but to gradually build a sustainable business.” Crowther at Asset Space matched the brief with a business model

focussed on long term growth and outdoor activity. “Any deal brought to the table is a balancing act. We want to promote sustainable growth by creating an optimal retail stream that will give ongoing value,” she says. “We set five-year terms: the first two years are about gaining knowledge from the supplier side; year three is a steady state period; and then it’s ongoing management.” Over at Hammerson, Court is happy to wait a couple of years for

things to start levelling out. As with many landlords, he understands the overall impact of good quality and targeted commercialisation in a retail destination. “It’s incredibly important, and in some cases even a vital part of the occupier and visitor experience,” he says. “Of course there’s a financial benefit, but it also creates life and vibrancy, and

venture by making them a partner. Nowadays, commercialisation and marketing go hand in hand,” says McCall. Forming partnerships and close relationships is a top priority at

C&W, which explains McCall’s strive towards a “cohesive approach” where every aspect of the centre – leasing teams, marketing teams, and commercialisation – runs in tandem. However, like Court at Hammerson, McCall sees the benefit of outside agencies as a form of third party support. “Our aim is always to work in conjunction with agencies rather than giving up everything to them,” he says.

So it seems that landlords, asset managers and outsourced

specialist agencies are finally moving onto the same page. Each of them wants the scheme to be a success, and that involves putting the retailers and customers first. Crowther adds: “We’ve got to work very closely with the guys on the ground and managing agents to know what’s happening with the tenants. In the end, the retailers are the asset. We work with the centre to make sure they’re happy and trading to the best of their abilities.”

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