Commercial real estate show Mapic opens in Cannes mixing verve and austerity
On November 29, a drizzly day in the French seaside resort of Cannes, the commercial real estate show Mapic opened its 2022 edition. The show, organised by RX France, was held at the Palais des Festivals, where the atmosphere was thankfully much more pleasant than the weather outside. Unlike last year, which was the show's first post Covid session, both halls of the venue were open and buzzing like beehives. Mapic 2022 expected up to 5,000 visitors, for a session that was reduced in size compared to pre-Covid editions, with many stands smaller and more understated.
Efficiency is the order of the day. Property developer Nhood (formerly Ceetrus), active in a dozen countries, has reduced the personnel manning its Mapic stand (for France) from 30 before the pandemic to six, and is holding more targeted meetings, mostly set up in advance. “We’re meeting directly with retailers’ general managers or real estate managers, and decisions are taken almost on the spot. Previously, at the show, there was more procrastination, with more intermediaries,” said Olivier Hatron, sales director France for Nhood. “Mapic is the ideal occasion to physically meet all retail players, enabling us to wrap up ongoing lease negotiations much more quickly,” he added.
There are more industry professionals from outside France than usual around the show’s aisles, because several major French property developers, like Carmila, Klépierre and URW, are not exhibiting, but also owing to renewed interest from European and Middle Eastern players. For example, Uzbekistan is represented by the Tashkent City Mall, and Saudi Arabia by Arabian Centers. Also, outlet malls are becoming a sizeable presence.
Laurence Paganini, president of Kaporal and of French retail association Procos, said the show has started in “very active” fashion. Visitors are often queuing up to access stands. In the Retail Village section, a novelty of the 2022 session, plenty of brands are looking for opportunities to open new stores. French second-hand apparel retailer Kiloshop is keen to “expand the network internationally, with directly owned stores and as master franchisor,” like cosmetics chain Adopt', which already operates 180 stores in France. “We are exhibiting at Mapic to take our first steps abroad, and are looking for retail partners in Spain, Italy and the UK,” said Nicolas Pellegrini, head of expansion France and Europe at Adopt’.
Many companies taking part in Mapic, whether exhibitors or visitors, also use the show as a place to get together. “All the Nhood subsidiaries are here, enabling us to generate synergies between countries, sharing information about brands looking for new development opportunities,” said Hatron. Budget retailer Primark regards Mapic as an ideal venue to gather together its real estate division: “80% of my meetings are with colleagues from other markets, it’s a chance to talk face-to-face, because we rarely meet during the year,” said Vincent Combet, head of real estate at Primark France.
At the event’s opening round-table debate, optimism was rife. “The retail sector has managed to sail through an extremely tough pandemic period. It has showed resilience,” said Chris Gardener, head of retail EMEA at real estate consulting firm CBRE. Mengxing Zhang Caia, an analyst at BNP Paribas Real Estate, said that “the retail trade, whether low-cost or luxury, will continue to reinvent itself over the years.”
Nevertheless, rising inflation is affecting the global economy and impacting consumption in Europe, and also stores, whose footfall has not climbed back to pre-Covid levels. Speaking at Mapic, European retailer association Eurelia emphasised that footfall in European stores is still 10 to 20% below its 2019 figures. Of the chains surveyed by Eurelia, 60% are predicting store closures in 2023, though 80% of respondents said they will continue to open new stores. Internationally, the preferred option is to continue to expand in countries where chains are already operating (according to 65% of respondents), rather than entering new markets (only 35%).
The ready-to-wear sector is going through a tough period, especially mid-range brands, but many fashion retailers have come to Mapic, although chiefly those “that have cash and are planning to grow internationally,” said Hatron, adding that “in shopping malls, the presence of apparel retailers has fallen from 60% to 40% in just a few years.” Fashion is no longer ubiquitous in shopping malls, and this is also reflected at Mapic, where more exhibition space is now dedicated to leisure-sector operators, with the LeisurUp' section, first introduced in 2021.
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