Is this the future of Shopping Centres ?

The High Street maybe dying, Shopping Centres struggling but there others who think differently. And thinking differently being the operative phrase.

Emaar Properties and Dubai Holdings have announced plans for an 8 million square foot of leasable Retail space in none other than Dubai. It will be the largest retail complex in the world . Much of it will be ‘Dubai’ like with water parks, ski slopes and artificial moon landings (joke) , theatres, and numerous entertainment centres. It is, however, the technological retail dimension that I believe could have a bigger impact on shopping centres worldwide.

The plan is to develop the retail environment using very cutting edge technology, including radio frequency identification (for checkouts), specifically designed apps, latest bar code scanning techniques, ability to purchase through desktop pc’s , mobiles and run of the mill checkouts.

Do I think this will be emulated in the U.K.? Do I think the Metro centre and Meadowhall in Sheffield are going to reinvent themselves and suddenly deter tourists from flocking to the Middle East ? No, ‘cos Sheffield and Gateshead ain’t figured out the sun and sand bit yet. However, much like the High Street but for slightly different reasons Shopping Centres will have to reinvent themselves.

There are signs that this has started to happen, as many have cinemas, numerous restaurants and in some cases casinos and hotels. Yet, I don’t think this is enough and the developers will have to be a lot more inventive to curb the current decline. As Department Stores are closing down at a rapid rate , the Centres are loosing their corner stones. For many years the attraction for many retailers looking to lease in a shopping centre is who are the anchors eg John Lewis, Debenhams,House of Fraser etc. much of the problem with shoppping centres is they have often been a reflection of a Department store trying to be many things to many people and in the end not really offering anything that anyone wants.

Shopping centres face further challenges to that of the High Street. The issue of high rents is, as I understand, underpinned by the Landlord and its investors. The financing of the Centre is based on the rent returns based on historic high values. Until this changes there is going to be no reapraisal of rentals anytime soon. Consequently they are going to have look at what they offer . For the foreseeable future there are not going to be more Retail stores, or certainly not in their current format. Hence they will need to attract new revenue streams from the entertainment and leisure markets.

There is, currently, one example in the U.K. which maybe gives a hint of what is to come . I am not sure they have got the mix right plus it is a bit of bolt on job to existing facilities but at the NEC near Birmingham, you,now, have an exhibition centre, entertainment centre , retail shopping centre, casino and this year Merlin entertainments have added the Bear Grylls adventure park. Because of its bolt on , ad hoc development nature of the NEC, it is all a bit higgledy piggedly. But nevertheless, it is an interesting direction of travel.

Another issue they face is that there is a fundamental structural problem, which is, perhaps a far bigger wall to climb, and that is their Structure. They are huge great monolithic beasts. It is like turning an oil tanker on a ‘sixpence’ (look it up if you don’t know what that is- and shame on you). In their present format there is little that could be done to adapt them for the next thirty years apart from knocking them down. In a way they are much like their historic cornerstones, the Department Store. They tried to be all things to all people and for a long time and whilst there was no alternative it worked. The alternatives are here and they are beginning to not work (Shopping Centres that is). Or certainly not as much the owners would like.

It maybe that some will be completely redeveloped. It is more likely that they will have to be more like the Dubai model. They will have to be cutting edge in terms of the experiences they offer and far more in tune with tomorrow’s retailers. Currently they can do neither. Redevelopment alone will be not enough for most . If the Meadowhall’s and Metro Centres of the future are to be successful and last another thirty plus years they will have to be completely rethought

If zip lining from the car park to Primark, having your purchases delivered to your home on your return, dining at a vast variety of international cuisine, losing fifty quid at the black jack tables , followed by a virtual concert of Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin and David Bowie and returned via a completely dry water Shute to your electric auto thing, does not float your boat. Then you’ll probably have to stick with shopping at your local Amazon store.

Brexit Update ……….Utter Tosh !


This is a rant ! I have made it clear from ¬†the beginning that I am a remainer who accepts the referendum result, consequently I am not going to drone on about whats good or bad. However, I will rant on about the one constant head line or title throughout this exercise and that is ‘Brexit Update’.

From Day 1 or 2 (depending on how you count it), there has been a continuous flow of absolute garbage. No matter what side of the fence you may sit on it remains as garbage. Nothing has been updated because there is little to update. Nobody really knows from day to day what is or has happened. If it does, a week later it is denied, changed or the other side says something like ….that is not quite what we meant….

Before, I go any further, there is something even more distasteful and that is ….what Brexit means for you…..all the media, journalists, politicians, social media, on a daily basis offer advice as to what it means for me and sixty five million other Brits. So how do they know ? They don’t , they haven’t a clue, it is all hypothecation at best. And each and everyone of them has a different proposition. Is it helpful? Is it heck. More to the point it is distinctly unhelpful. The majority of politicians, journalists and bureaucrats of all hues, are following their own agendas and have no concerns for the wider populace.There will be those who take notice, only to be completely confused because shortly afterwards they are told something completely different, by the very same person who told them something completely different the day before.

Please will somebody out there tell me, what is that makes this large group of uninformed (because there is nothing yet to know. The playing field keeps changing and who, as in been involved with any serious negotiations, tells all around what they are actually discussing ) think they are being helpful?Perhaps, there are some who can pre-plan and need to. A bit like Y2K ( the millennium bug,that wasn’t) there be a host of ‘consultants ‘ who will profit handsomely, from universal ignorance. Journalists revel in the ability to write about bucket loads of ‘ifs and maybes’ because there is nobody to prove them wrong. Politicians are having a ‘hay day ‘ as they keep their heads down whilst all around them chaos reigns.

That’s it I have ranted ! But I have one last question, and I want to underline that I am asking this question as a remainer….

Dear Mr Barnier, why are you conducting these negotiations on the premise that you cannot allow the U.K. to leave on too good a deal as everyone else will want to up-sticks and leave . Surely, if the EU were that bloody wonderful, your strongest hand would be that the U.K. can leave on favourable grounds and remain confident that the remaining members will just wave goodbye, being delighted that there is one less to share the goodies

If he can’t answer, why not ?

Sorry Mr B, here’s one more. If the EU rules, regs and norms must be adhered to. No matter what, how come Germany was the first country in 2003 to break the deficit rules that apply to all Euro Zone countries and they agreed with France , that the rules did not apply. And since 2007 it has broken the EU Current account rules concerning the size of its trade surplus vs economic output.

one last thing Mr B , have you seen this table……

So I will leave it at that. Sorry, ‘ leave’ only refers to the rant.