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UK mall operators embrace Magnolia

Magnolia is a tenant at six Hammerson shopping centres – Union Square, Aberdeen, Silverburn, Glasgow, Highcross, Leicester, Brent Cross, London, West Quay, Southampton and The Oracle, Reading – as well as more than 15 other malls. According to Stephen

Court, director of commercial and brand partnerships at Hammerson, Magnolia is a good example of an emerging brand that is willing to invest in product innovation, staff development and retail presentation “to create a strong niche in a highly competitive category.” It is also thought of as a

brand with a very clear retail property sector brief and one which demonstrates good technical and commercial skills and executes its strategy well. Owned by investors in

Israel, the jewellery retailer is established in the Canadian and Australian markets as well as in the UK and other European countries and has a dedicated team in each country. Hammerson formed a partnership with the UK team two years ago when they were new to the market. “Magnolia targets prime

locations, which is what Hammerson tends to specialise in,” says Court. “They’ve been growing with us and other sites.” Magnolia is in over 20 prime

schemes and has ambitions to grow into alternative locations. “There are 25 or so prime

sites in the UK so they’re running out of options,” says Court. The brand made its UK

debut at Brent Cross - moving forward Court can see it going into a smaller London centre

Jewellery kiosk retailer Magnolia has been a long term commercial partner of Hammerson over the past two years, in which time it’s grown into most of the UK’s prime shopping centres

with a different catchment, with a similar theory applied to other areas. He puts the success in the

UK market down to shrewd investment discipline, good technical skills, a focus on training and hard work. “They have very good

discipline in investment strategy, well thought-through plans for each location and very good technical skills – they know how the brand will work in each location and they know how they want to merchandise.” The products sell well,

something helped by the company’s ability to design and manufacture its own products – differentiating the brand from other jewellers. “And they work really hard,”

he adds. “Management are very keen to invest in training staff

to a high level – staff have great knowledge of the products and excellent customer service skills. “They are a very well

organised company.” This partnership with

Magnolia has come at a time when mall retail has been a growth area for Hammerson over the last three years. “We already had mall retail in

most locations,” he explains. “In recent years we’ve worked on getting long-term retailers into units that had previously been occupied by short-term tenants to create a different type of retail mix for our customers. At the same time we’ve increased the size of our portfolio. “This has helped us to

discover and take advantage of brands like Magnolia that weren’t in the market four or five years ago.

“All in all we’ve grown our

portfolio, changed strategy, up- weighted long-term retailers and down-weighted short-term - short-term is still a very lively area for us but it makes up a smaller percentage than it used to.” Court highlighted the

concerns regarding the quality and relevance of mall retailing in prime and secondary shopping centres in the UK in recent years, particularly as the gross leased area of mall retailing has expanded. But for him, “Magnolia brings

the best of in-line retailing into the mall environment; where they prefer to trade from. Magnolia’s recent growth in the UK demonstrates the increased demand from longer term quality brands for well located high value retail locations.” May 2011 SHOPPING CENTRE

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