NEINVER has been in the outlet business for over 25 years, as an investor, developer and operator, successfully undertaking many outlet projects in Europe. Here, RLI learns more about the retail and leasing side of the business as we sit down with Joan Rouras, Leasing and Retail Director of the Group.
Founded in 1969, NEINVER today operates 337,000sq m of outlet GLA including projects under development, plus 180,000sq m of other retail assets and over 800 brands across six countries in Europe. Due to their highly specialised profile and their commitment to both consumers and brands, they have been a leading force in the market for many years.
“Our value proposition is based on experience, flexibility and collaboration with retailers as long-term partners, aligning and working around common interests and this will continue to be a winning retail formula. Physical spaces are a key touchpoint for brands to help reinforce brand equity and the outlet business is an important channel for many brands to reach consumers,” explains Joan Rouras, Leasing and Retail Director of the Group.
“However, in addition to partnership, we need to continue to build on key areas such as digitalisation, shopping experience and sustainability. At NEINVER, we have been developing a broad range of initiatives designed to do just this – building on our brand partnerships and customer-centric initiatives, investing in digital technologies and raising the bar on our sustainability targets.”
Even in difficult recent times, the company has been extremely pleased with its results, its outlet centres in Europe are even outperforming the sales levels they reported pre-pandemic and they have successfully maintained stable occupancy rates across their portfolio and signed a number of key new leases.
They continue to work hand-in-hand with their brand partners, making decisions as a team based on performance and with a view to generating value across every stage. To support retailers’ growth strategies, in some cases they are adapting spaces to better meet their needs. Rouras explains that they don’t simply manage outlets or collect rents; their approach is to make business decisions that really provide retailers and customers with value-add, as can clearly be seen from the results achieved across their centres. They put themselves in their brands shoes, working with them to help them stay relevant for today’s end consumers.
Across the NEINVER portfolio, they have secured or brought in key anchors such as Zara Home in San Sebastián de los Reyes The Style Outlets in Spain that opened its first ever outlet, Under Armour in FACTORY Krakow in Poland, Wolford and Custo Barcelona at Viladecans The Style Outlets in Barcelona and Puma Kids in Amsterdam among others.
Other noteworthy lettings include the one signed with Adidas to increase its store size in FACTORY Ursus in Poland or the reinforcement of their partnership with Dockers in a portfolio-wide deal.
In terms of deals they are working on at the moment, Rouras explains that they have been reinforcing their food & beverage offer and paying special attention to the sportswear and activewear categories.
“Our food and beverage strategy is key in our leasing strategy. We have to give our customers more reasons to visit and that also means having the right dining offer. A rich variety of food and beverage options is extremely attractive for consumers and can play a key role in increasing the amount of time a consumer spends in the shopping centre. We were already investing in this area before the pandemic and we are now working on almost doubling the space allocated to restaurants at our centres, depending on location, local culture as well as local regulations. In centres where the offer is already extensive enough, we are strategically distributing F&B tenants across the centres or working to achieve the right mix in terms of quantity, diversity and quality of service. A good example is in Viladecans The Style Outlets, where we have opened several new restaurants in recent months, a move that has been important in increasing the centre’s footfall and improving its performance.”
They are also working on the Alpes The Style Outlets project which is progressing well. In terms of leasing, they have split the centre into clusters and several of these are now fully covered, with some areas, such as the most premium, in advanced stages of leasing. Rouras also notes the heightened interest that their current brand partners are showing in the scheme, which is a demonstration of the appeal of this project and of the The Style Outlets brand.
Sustainability is a huge consideration in the world of retail and retailers are becoming aware that taking meaningful action to address climate change or social issues can be an important differentiator.
“We have seen an increasing interest from retailers in recent years, particularly since the onset of the pandemic and more conversation is taking place with our partners on how to align sustainability strategies. Brands now realise that we have shared interests and a partnership approach is the most efficient way of making a significant impact. Finding the synergies and the right balance is the key,” says Rouras.
The NEINVER spirit is based on the concept of ‘service’ and therefore they accompany their partners along every step of their journey in the capacity of just that – a partner. Their core value lies in their dedication to establishing a long-term partnership with retailers from the very moment they sign an agreement through to the unit’s handover and their daily operations.
What sets the company apart is their ability to bring together the best brands, best prices and best customer experience. Their strategy is centred on offering customers a wide variety of choices, tailoring their tenant mix to their target customers, keeping the retail offer as up-to-date and appealing to each individual catchment area as possible and making sure the right experience and shopping journey is always offered for every generation.
“From the brand’s side, our success lies in the relationship we build with our partners. We work closely with them and strive to help them grow their businesses, because if they grow, so do we, it’s a win-win.”
When asked about the challenges facing the business, Rouras goes onto say that we are currently living in uncertain times and there is a lot of discussion around the need to continue to work on experience, sustainability, community and digital solutions to remain a leading force in the retail real estate industry.
“However, beyond that, one thing is certain, both from an individual and a company perspective, the need to bring out the best of us. In other words, to ensure we provide the best NEINVER possible in all aspects, because that is what will allow us to take on any challenges that we face in the market and the sector and turn them into opportunities. We have a wonderful and highly talented team of professionals, all of whom have a clear focus and are committed to achieving their objectives. With this in place, I am in no doubt that we will be able to successfully overcome any challenges we are confronted with in the future,” Rouras concludes.