Editor's Letter: Celebrate the difference

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We are all different, aren’t we? As my German acquaintances like to remind me, German nationals tend to prefer using cash to credit cards. They also seem to be hotter on asserting their privacy.

 

Surely you have at least once tried to use Google Street View to see a building in Frankfurt or Munich? It’s tricky. When Street View went live in 2010, 3% of German households exercised the right to have their homes blurred.

Certainly, differing cultural attitudes extend to shopping. In Germany, consumers have a long-running love affair with bargain grocery stores but how is this playing out across the country nowadays? There is a fascinating answer to that in this issue of RetailWatch.

What is happening in Germany, however, is different to Sweden, Italy, France, the UK, Spain and Greece, indeed any European country. And, this issue certainly offers a shop window into how developers, retailers and operators are responding to the holy grail of giving consumers what they want. That is the common denominator no matter which country we are talking about: you can see participants across the retail industry trying to be innovative in meeting customers’ wishes, from huge established brands and dominant shopping centres to small independents or start-ups.

Our partners in this issue each have their own unique story to tell, so be sure to check out each and every feature contributed by Atrium European Real Estate, Neinver, Redevco, SES and Sonae Sierra. To a certain extent, retail is allowing for trial and error and incubators. The market sees a ‘test bed’ approach to being successful in such transient times. And unusual crossovers are occurring.

In his cover story, Anthony O’Connor mentions McKinsey, yes, the global consultancy firm, and how  it has opened a 5,000 sq ft store in the Mall of America, Minneapolis where Abercrombie & Fitch used to be. He also mentions Decology’s spatial technology that helps furniture retailers sell their wares. This is surely giving early adopters an edge as customers want an alternative to the age-old method of human guess-work visualisation of a sofa looking good in your home – which comes with a 5% success rate, speaking from personal experience.

In Camden, central north London, Israeli billionaire Teddy Sagi’s investment firm is refurbishing 580,000 sq ft of mixed-use space with new leasing structures to encourage independents. In Sweden, AMF Fastigheter has its own version to serve Swedes. And in the UK, John Lewis’s JLAB is working with all sorts of creators. Industrial property is now also playing a huge part in the ecosystem as e-commerce and last mile come to the fore. All this and more are examined in this magazine.

We hope you enjoy delving into it.

Robin Marriott, Editor-in-chief

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