Shopping Centers Today International

JAN 2016

Shopping Centers Today is the news magazine of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)

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Page 41 of 59

we saw strong growth in cash flows. The improving economy contributed to ongoing sales increases as well. This year should be a better year for the industry for several reasons. We are expecting fewer store closings, and leading retailers, such as Victoria's Secret and Foot Locker, continue to expand their concepts. More online retailers, such as Warby Parker and Birchbox, have realized the impor- tance of building their brand with a brick-and-mortar presence and are opening stores in shopping centers. Off-price retailers have seen strong re- sults, and a number of conventional retailers, such as Macy's and Lord & Taylor, are moving forward with new concepts in the off-price category. Lower gas prices will give consumers additional discretionary income, con- tributing to sales increases. CBL has diversified its retail portfo- lio by expanding into the outlet center sector. Through new development and acquisitions, working with our part- ner, Horizon Group, we have built a portfolio of five highly successful out- let centers during the past four years. We have also focused on redevelop- ment of former department stores in the portfolio as a way to bring in new restaurants, retail concepts and uses to our centers. As ICSC chairman, my two ma- jor priorities have been in the areas of technology and public relations. Technology is an area that is ripe for collaboration among our members, and ICSC can play an important role in facilitating the exchange of infor- mation in this fast-changing area. As far as public relations, all too often we find our industry on the defensive in the media. We need to change the narrative and emphasize the critical role our industry plays in local econo- mies as a major source of taxes and employment and its role as the social hub in many communities. 42 S C T / J a n u a r y 2 0 1 6 Improving Europe outlook drawing foreign investors Fernando Oliveira, CEO, Sonae Sierra Maia, Portugal We are optimistic for Portugal and other European countries, in par- ticular Spain and Italy. In 2015 we saw economic recovery consolidat- ing in a consistent and significant way, backed by an increase in private consumption and better credit con- ditions. The global turmoil caused by the downturn in emerging mar- kets, amplified by the slide in Chi- nese stock markets, has turned the European shopping center market into one of the most attractive des- tinations for investments, with the potential to generate stable and high returns in a mature sector. The countries of southern Europe, in particular Italy, Spain and Portu- gal, offer potential for income growth and capital appreciation in 2016. The current low-interest-rate environ- ment, combined with a positive eco- nomic outlook, better financing con- ditions and improvement in private consumption, may offer consistent re- turns at controlled risk, as compared to the low returns in northern Euro- pean countries or the high risks of investing in countries like China. We are expecting to see the entry of inves- tors from countries or regions such as Qatar and Southeast Asia and the continued flow of investment capital from the U.S. The major corporate milestone for Sonae Sierra in 2016 will be the opening of the ParkLake shopping center, in Romania. Towards the end of 2016, we expect to begin construc- tion of the Malaga Designer Outlet, which we are developing with the McArthurGlen Group, in southern Spain. The project is part of the ex- pansion of the Plaza Mayor Shopping Centre — a retail focal point for the Costa del Sol, a region that attracts large numbers of tourists.

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