Isn’t Everything a Community Centre?

Posted by Knight Frank : Retail News on 25th Sep 2018

For a number of years, Ellandi has been describing itself as ‘The UK’s Leading Investor in Community Shopping Centres.’ Now, you may choose to agree or disagree with this slightly hubristic statement, but I hope that most people in the industry would recognise that we were one of the first and most vocal companies to articulate the role of our successful investments in the community.

Now it seems that every retail location, from world-class retail destinations to out-of-centre retail parks, make claim to their role at the heart of a community.

So in trying to answer the question above, it’s perhaps worth revisiting what it means to Ellandi and why we chose this tagline.

It starts with polarisation, the global societal change that is seeing the informed, purposeful shopper choose which retail channel best meets their specific needs. These are the result of three desires: experience, value and convenience. Very crudely put, this results in the relative outperformance of Westfield, some internet retailers and Coulby Newham (which is expertly managed by Knight Frank!).

The end of polarisation that Ellandi has chosen to play in is very much based around value and convenience retailing. So much so, we even initially embraced the phrase VCSC (Value and Convenience Shopping Centres). However, there was a very rapid realisation that the 'C' was driven by the fact that in our successful retail locations people shop as part of a linked trip, that is to say, they shop whilst they are doing something else.

This ‘something else’ can range from a trip to a gym, dropping the kids off at school, getting a haircut and, the often overlooked, popping to the shops en route to and from work or at lunchtime. Our annual intercept surveys have proven that 80% our customers visit our centres over once a week. They are, put very simply, at the centre of day-to-day life.

Some of these other uses or ‘draws’ are unlikely to be accommodated in existing shopping centres, which is why it has always been important to consider where the investment sits in relation to these other community drivers. Where is the bus station? The college? The health centre? Has the local authority committed to keeping its staff in town?

There is a danger that the word ‘community’, as now frequently adopted, is almost in danger of becoming meaningless due to overuse and does not fit its intended definition.

To assist us all in defining not only our ‘Community Centres’ but all of the Centres in the UK, Revo has recently undertaken a consultation about adopting a comprehensive classification methodology for shopping centres. This should bring the UK into line with global best practice and help our industry better articulate the attributes of the many types of places where consumers choose to shop.

As key industry players, Knight Frank have taken a proactive role in the process and we hope all the readers find this useful in explaining the roles of our Centres in today’s rapidly evolving retail world.

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