Last week, the Redwood team attended MAPIC 2016 at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès in Cannes. As anticipated, Donald Trump and Brexit dominated conversations at the global retail property industry event but unprecedented political change didn’t stop the sun shining on La Croisette.

By Day One, it was evident the wider international community had turned up in full force with developers from across Russia, Central and Eastern Europe, and the Middle East showcasing a robust pipeline of new schemes and redevelopments. Retail, however, was not on the agenda as an asset class in silo but as a critical component of successful urban regeneration, giving impetus to more innovative mixed-use concepts that are responding to rapidly changing consumer demands.

More pertinent questions were focused on the balance between retail and leisure, and how to ensure the tenant mix reflected a particular identity. 

Internationally, particularly in Eastern Europe, key industry players spoke about a new wave of inner city brownfield regeneration where retail, leisure, workspaces and residential are being brought together to redefine neglected neighbourhoods. Global retailers in expansion mode were on the hunt for more strategically located sites where they can introduce more F&B within larger store formats, ensuring ‘functional’ shopping becomes a thing of the past. Shopping is no longer simply about shopping – retailers want their stores to engage and inspire, responding to lifestyle changes, for example, where consumers can use shopping as a family day out.

In the UK, similar discussions were raised with a continued emphasis on local authorities and their role in unlocking inner city regeneration with this becoming a tried and tested success story for various cities across the country. Following the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Autumn Statement this week, which announced the creation of a National Productivity Investment Fund of £23bn for innovation and infrastructure, and that Local Enterprise Partnerships will receive £1.8bn through a third round of Growth Deals, pressure on local authorities to provide investors with a vision for their respective towns and cities is set to continue.

Redwood attended this year’s MAPIC with a range of clients, supporting their international growth plans with tailored media engagement with journalists from across the continent. The consensus was that the outlook was bright, and camaraderie was strong, as the industry came together to better understand how retail could be impacted by external factors out of its control. As the sun shone in Cannes, so too did the industry’s resilience in the face of the unknown and plans are clearly already afoot to ensure its best placed to overcome challenges in the mid and long term.