Image 9Several mall operators are developing « incubation » programs to test new concepts, discover new emerging brands and promising retailers.
Is this for landlords a way to reduce tenant vacancies or a deeper trend for global mall management? Lets mention here a few exemples :
– Swing Shops program by Ivanhoe Cambridge
-100 squared by Westfield Group
– Flash Stores by Sonae Sierra
– Set up shops : DDR Corp
-100 shops proposed by Kimco Realty Corp …/…
The new tenants are proposed lower rents, access to administrative support, professional network, marketing or sales strategy training…
An also interesting kind of “incubation experience” is helping already experienced retailers, mature for international expansion :
– Klépierre with Hema (Nl) and Kilo (It make up)
Other initiatives can be taken earlier in the development process :
– “Atelier des Talents” launched by Casino Immobiler & Development : searching for local talented retailers to integrate them in their future projects
– “Grand prix des Jeunes créateurs du commerce” created by Unibail-Rodamco : competition to finance innovation and business creation; the winner can later find a location in a shopping center  with attractive conditions

Those experiences can be generated by landlords themselves or in collaboration with non-profit or public institutions.
This practice – finding new tenants and concepts with low risks – as surely been amplified by the economic downturn. It would be interesting to see what’ll happen when economy recovers…
However, landlords are more and more insisting on the necessity to built unique places, based on an intense community life.
A recent study released by CNCC (French shopping centers council) showed that local shopping centers faced better the crisis than regional malls.
In US, “Neighborhood and community centers” seem to become attractive formats.
Mixing independents retailers, “incubators” and big anchors may be a aspect of the current retail evolution (e, smart….); it also illustrated a need of small surfaces.
This is probably the leverage and the challenge for retail project developers

See also our Post “Employment partnerships

Sources :  A guiding hand – SCT december 2012
Beauty in the eye of investors – SCR December 21012


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