Retailers are actively renewing their growth ambitions and were keen to discuss real projects at this year's ICSC Retail Connections, held in London in March.
While some area of Europe continue their fight out of recession, other areas such as Germany, Turkey and the Scandinavian countries are doing well. Retailers are recognizing this and adapting their growth plans accordingly.
As far as cities are concerned everyone still wants the best locations in London, Paris and Berlin. Some things don't change. Developers from 15 countries were at the show alongside the three top real estate consultancies.
For the first time, developers from Turkey and Russia also attended. But despite massive investment from Western European developers in recent years, retailers continue to view these countries with caution and many are still going in via the franchise route, testing the water before committing directly to the country.
An exception is Debenhams, which announced at the Fair that it was opening its first Russian store in IKEA's Mega Belaya Dacha in Moscow. The team said that the Western-style shopping center provided a safe launch pad into the fast-growing Russian market.
According to Klaus Striebich, Leasing Director at ECE Projektmanagment and chair of the ICSC Leasing Committee which runs Retail Connections: "With some Western European markets stagnating thanks to poor economies, it is retailers with the courage and ambition to enter new markets who will win the race, leaving the competitors behind."
ICSC Retail Connections 2012, held in London at the end of March was by far and away the best yet. 25% more retailers and nearly 40% more developers attended than in 2011. Most notable were the many retailers, such as Inditex and Abercrombie and Fitch who brought their whole teams.
Last year 80% of available retail space was represented at the event, this year with every major pan-European developer represented, it was more. Well over 1,500 meetings were held in just one day with retailers, saying that this event is on their annual calendar, are they use it to catching up with each other too. The team from Peek and Cloppenburg referred to the event as 'A coming together of the market'.
Source: Nicky Godding