It has been a great couple of days talking to some of our existing Clients, colleagues, friends and meeting new ones as well. It did however mean that I had to wait till late on Thursday afternoon to complete the article as I wanted to share with you some of the opinions from the panel on the Bon Apetit: Advantage Food panel.
Whilst this was a bit of a risk, as the session could have been one of those Conference yawn fests, I was pretty confident of some interesting opinions. Having helped compile the panel and also knowing that it contained two of my ex JLL Foodservice Colleagues, I knew that we would be getting both an interesting insight and some potentially lively debate.
For over 20 years the team here at JLL Foodservice Consulting have been banging the drum for “more food” and for “more prominent food” in Shopping Centres because we knew that food at the time was under-represented and more often than not “hidden”. However, sometime in the middle of last year we sat down as a team and discussed this, we recognised that there was a perfect storm brewing, with decreasing demand for physical retail space combined with growing investor (over?) confidence in F&B we were seeing foodservice being used to plug gaps, the wrong brands in the wrong places at the wrong times – paying very much the wrong rents. We knew that we had to help our Clients focus on providing the “right food”.
This theme was touched upon by all of the panellists and was summarised very nicely by Daniel Cerqueira da Rocha (Head of Foodservice Leasing) for Unibail-Rodamco in Germany with his statement that “foodservice is not a magic pill” and perhaps even more clearly by Fabian Rieden, SIGNA Food & Restaurant who said unequivocally that landlords should “not just add more restaurants”.
This need to take a strategic approach to food was one of the critical findings from JLL’s recent ICSC F&B Study into Shopping Centre foodservice and was stressed further by Jonathan Doughty of ECE who asked “who cares about how much food, we cannot treat all assets the same, there is a need to bespoke your foodservice offer”. Another key finding of the report was that there is a halo effect from foodservice, whilst it can be difficult to measure in isolation, there was unanimous agreement from the Landlords that we spoke to that a strong foodservice offer drives wider spend on retail, or as Doughty put it “for every minute more that someone spends with us, hopefully they will spend some cash”.
As foodservice people, the Team here at JLL Foodservice Consulting have long recognised the value of hospitality, in our early years when we were working in restaurants and hotels we would see first-hand the joy and emotion that great food, service and spaces bring to people. It is this joy that we in the property industry now need to tap into, to become great at delivering. As the different avenues for simple purchasing of products, and of things becomes quicker, easier and even automated, the property world, and particularly the retail world need to recognise that creating “places for people” is critical. We need to create spaces that people want to spend time in. This will include foodservice spaces, but equally (don’t shoot me here) non-commercial, non rentalised spaces where people can spend their time, relax and enjoy themselves will become invaluable. This is because if people spend time somewhere, and we as a collective create the right spaces for those moments of joy then they will, ultimately also spend money there.