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Talking Business: Brands and retailers turn out for Mapic

Harper Dennis Hobbs’ head of retail consultancy Jonathan De Mello reports back from retail property tradeshow Mapic, which took place in Cannes at the Palais des Festivals from November 16 to 18.

The retail property world’s annual soiree in Cannes – the Mapic conference – was certainly a hectic one‎ this year, with quick-fire 30-minute meetings very much de rigueur at the event. The world of fashion was certainly well represented, with a wide range of brands in attendance such as Burberry, C&A, Claire’s, Dolce & Gabbana and Vans.

Most meetings tend to be held in “the bunker”, a very large underground vault with a vast array of stands showcasing the wares of a variety of European and international property investors. Many of these investors have a range of shopping centre schemes they are in the process of extending or developing and attend Mapic to showcase these to the retailers in attendance in order to lease space in these malls to them. The biggest and most extravagant stands tended to be owned by Middle Eastern or former Eastern bloc investors – with European stands more frugal in comparison.

The Middle Eastern region, in particular, has seen a bit of a downturn in like-for-like sales among retailers recently given a drop in tourism. However, one of the themes for me from the conference from a variety of fashion retailers I met was the strength of two centres in particular – Mall of the Emirates and Dubai Mall. Mall of the Emirates ranks for many as one of the top five schemes in their global portfolio. Its sheer scale, level of footfall and the affluence of shoppers that visit it sets it apart from other centres.

An inevitable talking point at Mapic was the unconscionable terrorist attacks in Paris.‎ There was a heavy police presence in and around the event and very tight security throughout. This was reassuring, if a little unnerving, for delegates. Some retailers that were due to attend did unfortunately cancel their trips over to the conference – US brands in particular. This was a shame, as their attendance would have shown solidarity and defiance in the face of such heinous acts, and it resulted in a lower overall attendance level at Mapic than in previous years.

Those that did attend, however, were fairly unanimous in their view that this Mapic was a success – myself included. Planning is key as most of my meetings were arranged six weeks in advance, but I – like many people – as a result had a very busy schedule. The general upturn in both the macro-economy for Europe and consumer confidence ‎ – notwithstanding the terrorist attacks – is the main driver of this and, as a result, many retailers were very much on the expansion trail. The UK is the darling of Europe in this sense, with a better macro-economy and consumer confidence levels than its European peers – and many retailers I met were keen to expand into the UK as soon as possible. Great news for them – and consequently for us too.

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