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Collaboration Countdown


commercialisation group, made up of experts from the

UK’s top retail property developers, began as an informal group where members came together to share best practice. Eighteen months ago

the group officially aligned itself with the BCSC and Simon Donaldson, head of commercial partnerships at Lend Lease, became chairman – he gave up the post in January this year when Ross McCall, head of retail commercialisation at Cushman & Wakefield, took over the reins. The group – made up of 12 members from Hammerson, Land

Securities, Westfield, Trafford Centre, Lewis Commercialisation and others – meet every other month and have two main functions. They work together to establish commercialisation as a professional and essential part of shopping centre management and they aim to grow sustainable revenue by establishing shopping centres as a recognised media opportunity with consistent standards. The group’s efforts came to fruition in 2009 when the BCSC

published Mall Commercialisation – an introductory guide for retailers and property professionals – in association with the PMA. “There are many urban myths surrounding commercialisation

and it’s probably true to say that three or four years ago there were cowboys in the sector,” says Lend Lease’s Donaldson. ”The guidelines are about busting those myths and about education – it’s a beginners guide. “When the guidelines were first launched we had a mini-wave of shopping centre management teams getting in touch who had either never done commercialisation directly or were trying to put a strategy in place and were coming up against barriers. “The committee acts as a support group and a way of sharing best

practice and initiatives that the whole industry will benefit from – it’s about collaboration and we’re much better for it.” The guidelines have been updated recently and are due to be sent

out electronically in the coming weeks. Donaldson believes in a joined-up approach and that the best way

to operate is for asset managers to work together with marketing and commercialisation teams and retailers where necessary. He also advocates working closely with brands. “A number of brands


The BCSC Mall Commercialisation guidelines are due for relaunch. According to Lend Lease’s Simon Donaldson it’s set to bust myths

don’t understand shopping centres or the market so there’s more to be gained from communicating with them directly and finding out what their aspirations and goals are,” he says. “You might find out that a brand is spending £7m on launching a

new product in the spring and that they’re targeting ABC 1 audiences in the South, Midlands, North, wherever,” he explains. “Make an effort to target that brand/agency and that spend and continue to demonstrate to brands, with statistics and footfall, that advertising in malls is worthwhile.” According to Donaldson, experience, participation and education

are the three key things with anything involving food and drink, gaming and health and beauty helping to make centres more engaging. As part of this he thinks there will be continued growth in demonstrations and sampling. “Look at the retailers you’ve already got,” he advises. “For example, a

new perfume launch might be endorsed by a celebrity – celebrity and TV tie-ins like Gok Wan have a huge amount of mileage – so you could build an event around that and it would help John Lewis, Superdrug, The Perfume Shop and Boots, in the same way Nintendo promotions benefit game stores.”

He also talks of the need for benchmarking and the evolution of

standards. “Commercialisation is probably about as far advanced in a

traditional sense as it’s going to get so now it’s about benchmarking,” he says. “There’s a genuine requirement to understand how the system functions, whether that be vacancy rates, rents etc. With commercialisation it’s little or nothing – you have to think about pounds per sq ft, return and net operation incomes to know whether a centre’s underperforming or not.” In the future, Donaldson thinks free access wireless will be the norm in shopping centres and that a telecommunication or gadget brand trial can be run to recover the costs of installation. And on new builds, he advocates preparing for commercialisation at

the earliest possible phase by designing specific zones for the activities to take place and involving commercialisation teams from scratch who can prepare for completion day.

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