Can you tell us a bit about Innesco and its focus?
“We’ve celebrated our third birthday this year, having worked exclusively in real estate and now more in the retail sector too. We provide marketing strategy at a business plan level with different property and retail clients, such as Westfield and Henderson Global Investors, which has taken us out the UK over the last 24 months into the Middle East, South America and continental Europe, building on work we started with in the UK, Russia and Scandinavia.
“Our work outside of the UK has really helped to define our business. We mustn’t look exclusively at the UK any more; rather our team thinks on a global level about the issues affecting the real estate industry, which by its nature is a global business.”
Are you mainly focused on real estate?
“Yes, and across its entire lifecycle. In particular, we’ve had an extraordinary year on the planning and development side of the business, working with the likes of AXA, Gallagher Estates, and Lands Improvement Holdings, on major projects - undertaking branding and consultation exercises; anticipating changes to the planning laws in the UK, the publication of the Portas review and the potential move towards Localism.”
How would you assess the real estate markets?
“I’d say there is a delicate show of optimism, particularly from outside the UK. Consumer markets are still weak in the UK and we’re still waiting for better news on spending. In terms of investments and new developments, the pipeline remains at a bit of a standstill, but there is optimism when it comes to the quality of shopping center development. This comes from a combination of different factors from providing the best tenant mix to the best shopping environment and services and the most technologically advanced centers. There is an inexorable shift in this direction.”
Where do you see the retail landscape in the future?
"I think for retailers and retail environments to stay fresh then it’s all about the connection with the customer, and how to create the best possible shopping environment that utilizes all of the key push points – not forgetting the most up-to-date technology. The pace of change in technology is what’s taking most by surprise. When we think about what we didn’t have 10 years ago then it’s almost impossible to imagine where we’re going to have in another 10 years, perhaps even much sooner than that.”
What is your involvement with BCSC?
"I am Chairman of the Next Generation Committee, a platform to help the younger half of the retail property sector (up to the age of 35) meet, learn and network with the captains and ‘elder statesmen’ of the industry. We do this through a range of seminars, site tours and other events throughout the year – it’s very popular.
“The BCSC has really seen the impact of networking growing over the last few years. It’s an established part of the annual conference, which I’ve also been involved in organizing this year – from its new pricing structure to the keynote speakers. It’s really important to get together and meet with people from all sectors and levels of the retail real estate environment, particularly when we convene outside of London.”