Jonathan Guthrie, of the City of Edinburgh Council, has just returned from MAPIC, Monday December 06 2010
Jonathan Guthrie, Investment Promotion Manager at
City of Edinburgh
Council, has just returned from
MAPIC, the world's biggest retail property show, and explains
its importance to Edinburgh...
What is MAPIC?
It is the largest retail-focused real estate conference in the
world. To us, it's about access to the world's top retailers and
investors. MAPIC allows us to directly engage them with what we're
doing in Edinburgh and the opportunities we have for new retail,
development and investment.
What do you do there?
We find out what retailers and investors are looking for and
develop propositions for them, usually presented at the following
show. For example, do they need occupiers, investment or land? Do
they want to co-locate beside those from a similar sector; do they
have longer-term, more aspirational requirements? We hold their
hand through the process and introduce them to contacts such as
financial backers, other retailers, landowners or building owners.
One show doesn't usually land a project but two shows often do. We
have used this approach since 2004 to secure Henderson Global Investors (backers
of the £850m St James
Quarter project), Primark (opening a new flagship
store on Princes Street), ING
(former owners of 3-8 St Andrew Square), hoteliers, retailers and
investors for buildings in other locations including Princes
Street, Waterloo Place, George Street and Leith Walk.
How is Edinburgh perceived?
In European terms, our proactive investment and development
strategy for the city is perceived as being among the best in
practice, with others seeking to copy what we do. While we see city
partners like Istanbul, Hamburg and Barcelona as aspirational, they
often look to us as being co-ordinated and focused in what we're
doing. We often meet other cities at MAPIC and
MIPIM (the international property trade market) through
Urban Land Institute events and
share practical suggestions and leads. Many European retailers also
see Edinburgh as a great place to enter the UK. It's not as
expensive as London and allows them to test the water and set up
their infrastructure and supply networks without the overhead and
expense of London. One key point that attracts a lot of retailers
and investments is that, while we only have half a million
inhabitants, we have an extraordinary number of visitors. From a
retailing point of view, that's a very good thing.
How is retail market confidence?
It's pretty good. Despite the fact we're in the middle of a
downturn, there's a real feeling that it is now time to pull
ourselves out of it. There's a still a lack of fluidity and
investment, but a lot of interest in what the next big thing will
be and where the key sectors and geographic locations are.
Therefore the more we do now to prepare, attract and land interest,
the stronger we will be in the future.