Mapic 2022 sees retail emerge from 'stress test'

The 26th edition of global real estate conference Mapic, held last week in Cannes, attracted more than 5,000 participants, including 1,600 brands, to its three-day event.

While 2022 marked the first year of Mapic's full post-pandemic return, with delegates eager to reconnect, they also faced challenges including the worsening economic outlook and a difficult trading environment.

However, innovative developments and concepts abounded, suggesting that the sector still has much to offer.

Although European projects maintained a strong presence, the growing importance of the Middle East and Asia was reflected in the large number of exhibitors and participants from these geographies, including those from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Uzbekistan.

A resilient return
Mapic kicked off with a panel that retiterated the resilience of in-person retail. Mengxing Zhang of BNP Paribas Real Estate suggested framing the pandemic as a 'stress test' for the retail sector and pointed to the continued resilient performance from retail sectors such as home goods, DIY discount shops, and outlets.

This session was followed by a keynote from Paco Underhill, founder of Envirosell and author, who took to the stage to discuss how retailers can appeal to their most productive markets, such as young money, young people and women.

This session offered insights on the importance of educating consumers to better understand retailers’ value propositions — a recurring theme throughout the week.

The crucial and growing role of leisure in the retail sector was also an important theme. The opening session dedicated to new trends in leisure showed how the leisure and entertainment sector can create positive impacts for in-person retail.

Attractive to younger generations, leisure can help to bring physical commerce back to consumers who strayed from it during Covid. For leisure and commerce to be mutually beneficial, it should be defined by a clear strategy, taking into account the objectives of the project, as well as the the competition and the site itself.

In her speech, Marie Marks of Paramount Global's themed entertainment division underlined the importance of 'choosing the right brand license, with the right format in the right place, without chasing after the latest innovation', whilst also highlighting the emotional attachment that many consumers and visitors have with certain companies’ intellectual property. Paramount will continue its international expansion in Asia, with the opening of the Bali park in 2026.

Multiple innovation tracks
Key lessons from F&B (food and beverage) leaders, such as Vincent Mourre of Whitespace Partners, pointed to the increased demand from investors and consumers for the resilient and agile QSR (Quick Service Restaurants) segment—such as fast casual, coffee and bakery offerings.

In a market landscape where access to financing is increasingly strained, Whitespace has noted companies’ interest in seeking alternative sources of financing or considering IPOs.

In line with Mapic 2022’s focus on sustainability, the Green means go: Accelerating environmental transition for retail destinations panel also offered a refreshingly frank and pragmatic approach to how retail can reduce its environmental impact.

Antoine Frey, CEO of Frey and Elisabeth Laville, founder of Utopies reflected on the retail sector’s top priorities. Laville stated that 'we need to address the biggest problems; construction and consumption'.

Frey explained that his firm aims to reduce its carbon footprint by using cross-laminated timber instead of steel in the construction of some buildings, while Laville made the case for the importance of physical retail for—and by—the local.

Each year, Mapic hosts some of the retail real estate industry’s largest leasing announcements—and 2022 was no different. Landmark Saudi project Diriyah Square announced that the world’s largest Time Out Market; Time Out Market Riyadh, will open its doors in 2025. The indoor and outdoor dining options will include approximately 1,650 seats, 23 kitchens, five beverage serveries, and multiple stages, event and exhibition spaces.

Other projects from the Middle East and Asia also on-site with exciting plans for the future included The Avenues and Tashkent City Mall respectively.


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