Small retailers benefit from shopping centers, ICSC tells EU (EU)

Small and independent retailers across Europe benefit from greater access to shoppers and increased footfall when they operate within shopping centers, according to Peter Wilhelm, International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) Europe Public Affairs Committee representative speaking within the European Parliament last week.

Peter Wilhelm

Peter Wilhelm.

Shopping centers bring a balanced retail mix to consumers and support urban regeneration, he said. They are not the enemy of small retailers.

Wilhelm said: "There are an important number of small and independent retailers trading within shopping centers and they do so because of the increased footfall and opportunity to build their brand in an attractive, well-managed center. Shopping center asset managers welcome these retailers as they help to make a shopping center's offer more diverse and attractive."

Peter Wilhelm, also CEO of Belgium retail development company Wilhelm and Co, was speaking on behalf of the retail property and shopping center industry at an Internal Market Committee round table debate on the EU retail market within the European Parliament.

The debate looked at the barriers to fair and efficient retail markets for consumers and businesses and gave stakeholders the opportunity to debate with members of the European Parliament in order to feed into a new report Swedish center-right MEP Corazza Bildt is drafting on the issue.

Wilhelm advocated for the removal of unfair barriers to retail development and for a better understanding of the significant commercial, economic and employment benefits retail developments bring to local communities.

Four themed panel sessions at the debate looked at issues such as contractual relationships in the supply chain, market access and barriers to competition, sustainable retail practices and free movement of goods. Participants included retail organizations, small business champions, consumer groups, producers of branded goods and food producers as well as the representatives of retail property. The debate raised questions about the interactions between small and large retailers, fairness between retailers and producers (abuse of dominant position, own-brands) and barriers to competition such as restrictions on establishment and discriminatory protectionist legislation.

ICSC established its European Public Affairs Committee in 2006 to engage with the EU Institutions in Brussels, because the parliament did not understand the retail real industry. In the eyes of the EU: A commercial building was just that – no account was taken of its purpose or diversity of occupants. Now that European legislators are beginning to understand how much the shopping center industry has already done to boost emerging European economies and drive forward sustainable development.

Source: Nicky Godding

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