The MAPIC 2014 retail property market conference in Cannes

Let the sunshine in

The effects of sunlight on the human body have been widely documented in scientific research. It is an established fact that the rays of the sun play a role in regulating the hormonal balance. Exposure to them increases the level of serotonin – the happiness hormone. And this improves your mood considerably. Perhaps this is was the most important factor in the success of MAPIC 2014, which took place, as always, in Cannes on the French Riviera

This year the mood was directly proportional to the amount of sunlight, which there was a great deal of. Even though the representation of the Polish retail market was not at full strength (there were fewer stands this time for developers from Poland), those who did come were in high spirits. An event organised before the start of the three-day marathon had a large influence on this. Gemini Holding and the head of the company, Rafał Sonik, acquitted themselves well as hosts of the party, which attracted representatives of developers, retail chains, consultancies and many others – including us. Everything needed to have lots of fun with just a touch of business seriousness was laid on: the hospitality of the organisers, good music and, most of all, the warmth of the atmosphere, which could be sensed everywhere. Even though the halls buzzed with activity for the next three days, nobody complained about the long hours spent in business meetings. Besides, the Palais des Festivals was not the only place where such conversations could take place. Fair participants could be seen in the restaurants along the beach, as the superb weather encouraged openness and the willingness to cooperate. Shopping centre owners, facility managers, tenants and others in the sector sat together at restaurant tables – and it was clear to see how much everyone appreciated fostering or maintaining the good relations which are, after all, the stuff that such fairs are made of. The developers’ representatives I interviewed did not want to talk about any lease contracts they’d signed. For them the event is mostly an opportunity to get to know the expectations of their business partners, particularly those who are only thinking about opening stores in Poland. What was possible to discover about the Polish market was the fact that older facilities are in need of modernisation, the role of hypermarkets is diminishing, while discount shops are becoming more and more important (not only grocery stores), and consumer behaviour is undergoing some changes (involving the diversification of the sales process and the necessity to introduce new functions to retail facilities). Based on our conversations with market specialists, it could also be concluded that the conflict between rent levels and tenants’ requirements – in other words, the imbalance on the market – has yet to be resolved.

This year’s MAPIC was, once again, an opportunity for the Russian market to show its strength, as evidenced by IKEA Shopping Centres Russia, which is investing EUR 2 bln in the country. There was also much talk about the growing impact of new technology on the shaping of a modern retail facility and its marketing. A good example of this was the Posnania shopping centre – a project by Apsys Polska and Foncière Euris under construction in Poznań, which was given a great deal of exposure at the fair. Many other developers, tenants and customers were also able to showcase their achievements in terms of the digitalisation of marketing and the use of technology. Meanwhile the contingent from the Far East were able to show off some of the impressive projects in their part of the world, which left us stunned by their size, architecture and combination of functions.

MAPIC 2014 is now behind us and winter is just round the corner. Let’s hope that a chilly mood will now not be descending on the retail market and the sunny outlook of the meetings in Cannes will continue for the foreseeable future.