The Spanish retail market’s stellar fundamentals and the dynamic backdrop of Barcelona provide the perfect platform this week for the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)’s annual European conference, delegates heard on the opening day of the event.
‘We’ve radically overhauled the conference style this year,’ said Bill Kistler, executive vice president and managing director of EMEA at ICSC, ‘and this innovative city is the right place to be doing that.’
With an overarching theme of ‘Space, Place and the Future of Retail’, this year’s ICSC event celebrates and studies retail in all its forms, Kistler said. ‘From transport hubs to urban hot spots, retail is everywhere. This is what we’ve tried to weave into this programme. The changing role of leisure and F&B as anchors is also noteworthy.’
He added: ‘We have double the amount of speakers this year as we’re holding simultaneous sessions to give retail specialists a broad range of tools to take on the future.’
Spanish Council of Shopping Centres (AECC) president Javier Hortelano de la Lastra, who is also managing partner and director of Catella Asset Management Iberia, said that Spanish retail was also enjoying its moment in the sun.
‘There are about 550 shopping centres and retail parks in Spain today, representing 1.5 million m2 of GLA, which is equal to around 350 m2 of space per thousand inhabitants,’ de la Lastra said.
‘The fundamentals are good, its one of the fastest growing economies in Europe, and that is being reflected in retail sales, with an annual growth of around 4%. Just look at the deals - many global investors decided to believe in Spain and enter the market over the last few years.
‘We believe that’s only going to continue,’ he concluded.