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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conversation about: 'We've got a three- meter ceiling, and we've got brand-new marble, and we've got a Macy's or a John Lewis or something,'" said Gilbert- Rolfe. "Whereas the Movvo system will say: 'This is how many people go past the front door every day, down to the hour; this is what the capture rate at your brand is.' So say the store was H&M — it would say: '19,000 people will pass the front door; at H&M you get 7.2 percent of the people who come in. The average spend is €13 per head, so this is what we would expect shopping receipts to be, this is what we would expect sales to be, this is how sustainable your store is go- ing to be in this particular brand zone, in this particular mall.'" The software can also be used, on an opt-in basis, to broadcast marketing of- fers. At Sonae Sierra's Plaza Mayor shop- ping center, in Malaga, Spain, Adidas, Nike, and Sport Zone collaborated on a project that offered a virtual €10 dis- count certificate good at any of the three stores to customers who had spent three minutes at each one. "It's not the most sophisticated bit of marketing, but it's quite groovy from a technology perspec- tive, because there's nothing installed in any of those places," Gilbert-Rolfe said. Another tech wave Gilbert-Rolfe is excited about is the burgeoning IT scene in Portugal. Movvo's home city of Porto, a poor but picturesque place in northern Portugal that was once known as a hub for exporters of port and sherry, is today a rising tech center. "There are a lot of international and European companies arriving there," he said. Companies like the idea of a low-cost tech center that runs on Greenwich Mean Time, accord- ing to Gilbert-Rolfe. "They've got [the la- bor] arbitrage upside," he said, "but with people with immaculate English, bril- liant education and very highly skilled." Despite his enthusiasm for Portugal, Gilbert-Rolfe plans to move the com- pany's headquarters to London next year for the sake of greater access to sales and business-development expertise, and to enjoy the benefits of that city's global reputation. "If you go to a meeting in Shanghai, and you say, 'I've got some re- ally cool, important technology for you to think about — it's from Portugal,' peo- ple's eyes glaze over a bit; it just doesn't resonate," he said. "For better or worse, you have to say, 'I'm from New York, I'm from London, I'm from Hong Kong.'" This will also suit him personally, he notes, because he has loved ones living in London: a fiancée and two adult sons. Gilbert-Rolfe says he plans to spend about half his time next year in Asia, the market he finds most receptive to fresh ideas. "The people I meet in Asia are the most enthusiastic, the most engaged, the most open to hearing about some- thing that is maybe going to add value to them," he said. Europe, on the other hand, is complex, he says, while the U.S. is just plain tough. "If I have a CEO job title … in the U.S. in the [retail] space, I'm probably getting 200 companies a day who think they have a brilliant idea for me," he said. "Trying to navigate that is absolutely brutal. … I'm lucky enough to have a network, but the idea of going cold into a market like that is super hard." Hard or not, Gilbert-Rolfe has hit the ground running. In only his second month on the job, he planned to hit Berlin one week, Hong Kong the next, New York the week after that. "It's on the road, it's different cultures, it's dif- ferent products, it's great fun," he said. And it also seems to be nothing new for this self-described son of "hippy art- ists" who relocated with him from the U.K. to the U.S. in 1966, when he was only a year old — first to Gainesville, Fla., then to San Francisco and finally to Brooklyn, N.Y. He moved back to Lon- don with his mother in 1973. "Did that have an effect on my career? I think it must have done," he mused. "The dis- ruption made me very quick to adapt to new things. The creativity gave me some tools to always look at things from, I hope, a fresh angle." Gilbert-Rolfe thinks too that his parents' having been artists and teach- ers probably set him firmly against any idea of doing something similar. "I went down a different road," he said. "When I was 16, I left school and got a job at Cam- den Market, in North London. I have never looked back from there." S C T J a n u a r y 2 0 1 6 / S C T 55 "The people I meet in Asia are the most enthusiastic, the most engaged, the most open to hearing about something that is maybe going to add value to them."

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