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Niche leasing: the future of an art form

In the last ten years RMUs and promotions have arrived and developed. The Australians were widely recognised as importing the idea, but not to be outdone, the UK has gone on to create some of the most pioneering examples of commercialisation in the world

fake experiences, the chance for people to engage and to belong will reverse the charge of the chain store and smaller centres will see their role as a community hub develop. Meaningful social gatherings and people’s desire for belonging and emotional attachment will result in the rebirth of the ‘shopkeeper.’ “Specialist proprietors will

sell an experience, the product will be secondary; think wine tasting with an option to buy at the end, a florists where you do the arranging or designing, crafting and making your own footwear.” The trends being discussed

A whole new industry has formed around commercialisation in that new service providers, specialist consultants and agencies, now drive the industry forward. Given the massive success

of the last decade attention is now turning to look forward. The most progressive owners and managing agents are looking for the ‘next big thing’ and are keen to make their malls as exciting and profitable as possible. On behalf of one of the UK’s

leading landlords Ross McCall, head of commercialisation at Cushman & Wakefield, was recently commissioned to look at key trends for emerging mall activity. “In the not too distant future

it will be the norm for brands, retailers and small businesses

alike to use mall space as part of a multi-channel approach to retail,” says McCall. “The quality of installations and frequency of use is going to increase; it will evolve into a ‘theatre’ in which premium brands, retailers and small business use the space as a media by which to engage people via taste, smell and touch. Mall space will add a third, fourth and fifth dimension to any (potential) transaction - it will complement the highly developed audio and visual mediums. “Emphasis will shift from

simply selling a product to selling an experience. Visual noise, e-marketing and bespoke communication is going to result in businesses needing to innovate to achieve cut through. They’re going to have to work


harder to get a brand or product noticed and even harder to retain the person as a loyal customer. Niche leasing [the phrase McCall now uses to refer to RMU’s, kiosks and temporary lets] will present the perfect opportunity for retailers to meet, greet and engage potential customers. Mid mall locations will provide much needed exposure.” McCall sees this trend

occurring in all malls regardless of size, location or owner outlook. He refers to the various forms of mall activity and he is keen to explain that each and every centre has value, not just the top ten supermalls. “The future proliferation

of authentic retailers is going to change mall retailing,” he explains. “People are already tiring of clone streets and

are at the cutting edge of mall strategies and are obviously only just starting to develop. Even the most pioneering landlords can only dream of installations that tick all the boxes. Engendering customer satisfaction, giving shoppers a reason to visit and boosting income is a utopia that most landlords can only dream of. “Niche leasing in its varying

forms is and will continue to be a significant part of the future for all shopping centres,” McCall concludes. “Changing customer demands and new technologies will fuel the evolution of niche leasing. Landlords, retailers and brands alike have no choice other than to watch, look and listen; I pity the fool who fails to notice the change that is coming. Now is the time to act to protect your position.”

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