RMUs, kiosks and pop-up shops are playing an ever important role in diversifying a shopping centre’s offer, plugging gaps in the retail mix and showcasing products and services that excite the shopper while complementing those of the in-line tenants.
Commercialisation activity is likely to increase this year. With a marked increase in shopping centre acquisitions, Carl Arrowsmith, Business Development Director at Destination Space, predicts the focus on RMUs, kiosks and pop up shops will be even more important as new landlords seek to add value to their newly acquired assets.
And with a well-executed commercialisation strategy comes rewards beyond income generation as Nancy Cullen, chief operating officer at SpandandPeople, explains: “Implementing a cohesive on-mall strategy that complements the existing retail mix and is targeted at the venue demographic is one of the fundamental ways in which to differentiate one centre from another,” she says. “The retail mix in many centres is fairly standardised throughout the country so differentiating with unusual and unique merchandise on kiosks and promotional activity keeps a centre top of mind to shoppers.”
With a continued focus on commercialisation, now a mature concept in the UK, shopping centre operators and their agents are becoming more and more discerning about quality, pouring energy into finding the right uses for the right spaces.
With many centres choosing quality over quantity, Destination Space has moved towards working with a smaller number of high quality kiosk operators over a large number of clients with varying levels of standards, replacing shabby RMUs with new modern kiosks that are made for purpose.
Jones Lang LaSalle’s Kaye Walker agrees: “We look for quality but that doesn’t necessarily mean a high price point. On-mall commercialisation has to be well merchandised and presented and part of that comes down to RMU and kiosk design. Increasingly, commercialisation plays a part in a centre’s individual brand and bespoke kiosks are winning out over traditional RMUs because they can be adapted to avoid sightline issues and offer more flexibility.”
Telford shopping centre has had success in supporting an independent retailer from an RMU into a small shop unit and later into a larger one. Victoria James, an independent retailer specialising in vintage-style furniture and home accessories, has seen continued success in the centre over the past two and a half years.
Started by husband and wife team Michael and Ann Haines who both gave up jobs in senior management for a brave new life in the retail sector, Victoria James began trading from an RMU in July 2011, which the couple saw as a springboard for their fledging business.
After five months of exceptional trade they moved into a small 400-sq ft shop. And less than a year later, in September 2013, they moved into a larger 952-sq ft unit, encouraged by growing customer demand. The move enabled Michael and Ann to almost double their range of accessories and furniture, providing even more choice for customers, and as a result, turnover doubled.
“Victoria James’s rapid and successful expansion is extraordinary and very encouraging news for both the store and the centre,” says centre director Chris Jones. “Perhaps the key to Michael and Ann’s success is sourcing products which one can’t easily find elsewhere in Telford. This undoubtedly makes the store a popular destination with shoppers looking for that special gift.
“Independent retailers add essential spice to shopping centres which complements and enhances the shopping experience provided by the big name retail brands.”
Arrowsmith has seen a marked decrease in gold buying services on the mall because of a saturated market, but electronic cigarette operators are taking up those voids, and have represented the growth in mall revenue generation in 2014. And he expects further growth this year, with a big drive in product improvements and product marketing across all media formats.
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