Visiting Friends

Senior IPH managers have taken an illuminating tour of four British shopping centers accompanied by architects, project developers and shopping center owners.

What are the current shopping center trends in the UK – and is there anything we can also successfully implement here in Germany? In order to find out, a team comprising Lars Jähnichen, Managing Director of IPH Centermanagement GmbH, Julia Graf, regional director for center management south, center manager Andreas Dörr and 10 further advisors has put four centers under the microscope.

What the team discovered was a significant trend in the restaurant sector. By contrast to German centers, restaurant operators can become the anchor tenants in UK properties. This applies to both food courts and individual restaurant units.

Some of the food courts visited by the team were the architectural centerpiece of the centers. Food is particularly dominant at the Trafford Centre in Manchester: the food court is laid out in the form of a cruise ship and comprizes a total of 57 units and seating for 1,600. The street food court is similarly impressive at the Trinity Leeds center: untreated wood panels and works of street art provide the rustic charm, and part of the area is purposely left in shell and core condition. Some of the food was even sold out of food trucks, which are changed round every six weeks. The customers have never ending opportunities to try out different food.

The restaurants show that a visit to a shopping center is a more significant part of cultural and recreational life for British customers. There is a wide range of different food on offer in the centers from steak houses and Italian restaurants to Sushi. This is also an integral part of a well-balanced tenant mix. Or put another way: whilst visitors to German shopping centers tend to head for the convenience or fashion stores and the presence of a high quality food and beverage assortment is merely an additional attraction, British customers visit centers deliberately at midday or in the evening to eat out.

German center managers can draw some inspiration from this. On the one hand the proportion of total shopping center area occupied by restaurants is around 15% in the UK and thus significantly higher than in Germany. On the other hand, there needs to be a wide range of different tenants offering high quality food. A good example is the expansion of the highly promising street food sector – even without the food trucks. Furthermore, the UK centers show conclusively that it is possible to use architectural design to create a significantly better ambience in the center. This is an added value which German center managers can implement by the use of exclusive design concepts.

Julia Graf

Tel: +49 173 5186194