Cushman & Wakefield is a global commercial real estate services company operating in 70 countries and has 48,000 employees. Cushman & Wakefield’s retail and leisure transactions and consulting group similarly operates on a connected, global basis, representing owners and occupiers. Here, RLI speaks to International Partner and Head of the EMEA Retail and Leisure Group, Justin Taylor, about structural change in the sector and what’s next.

What is so interesting is when we talk to clients and colleagues in the Americas, Asia and Australia; many of the trends we are seeing in Europe are replicated in those markets. There is a convergence of societal trends, such as more people living in large urban centres at increased density, with digital trends which are causing an unbundling of the retail value chain, meaning a shop’s original purpose as a place for transactions and distribution of goods in some cases is weakening. The consequence of this convergence will mean existing assets will need to be repurposed and transformed and new urban places will need to be more relevant, vibrant, and engaging to customers and communities.

The real estate agenda is moving steadily away from a singular focus on retail mix towards how many uses can work together for mutual benefits. There is growing recognition that the physical lines which once rigidly separated the functions of living, working, entertainment and shopping need to be almost entirely removed. How well urban locations adjust to the changes already and irreversibly underway, will be defined partly by how they respond to that most fundamental of human drivers: the desire and/or need of people to be in a certain place and to capture that “instagramable” moment with colleagues, family and friends. As the “armchair economy” (everything available on digital request) trend grows we are also witnessing counter-lifestyle trends emerging.

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These include the need for belonging, health and wellbeing and a desire for visitor attractions/experiences. The behavioural drivers for customers in the future will be an experience which delivers ‘pleasure’ and ‘purpose’ and these need to be core to the offer of a physical place. We see great examples of this on projects Cushman & Wakefield are working on, such as Wembley Park in London, a £3bn development being undertaken by Quintain, creating a new 85 acre neighbourhood. This includes globally renowned sports and entertainment venues (Wembley Stadium and Arena), sitting comfortably alongside a new district of retail, leisure, offices, and 7,500 new homes, the latter under the Tipi brand, following a rental rather than sale model. To reflect these changing global trends and how they will impact real estate, at Cushman & Wakefield we are moving away from historic property sector definitions of retail, offices and residential towards a language which reflects customers’ missions and emotions. We envisage these future mixed-use destinations being termed “Social Spaces”; better reflecting the underlying human purpose and emotion.

We are seeing similar trends in the office and co-working sector where increasingly the employer needs to locate where the talent pool lives and is available. The employee is increasingly looking for a more vibrant, engaging and changing place to live and work. Cushman & Wakefield has worked with Argent on the development of Kings Cross in London which exemplifies these trends. Kings Cross is responding to the mix of people and culture accommodating students, office workers, visitors, tourists, shoppers and residents. The world-famous arts college Central Saint Martins, sits alongside office occupiers including Google and soon-to-be Facebook, with the centre piece being a huge public space with fountains (Granary Square) and canal-side restaurants and events space.

www.cushmanwakefield.co.uk