Retail Real Estate Experts talk about their life and career on Bayfield Training Blog.
Director, Retail Management Consultants
SEUNG JUN OH: You started your career as a policy manager for the Scottish Government, what made you relocate to retail real estate sector?
JOSEPH: I was born into it. My father was a retailer. His dad owned a kids wear business and was a wholesaler of Italian suits in London in the sixties. And my great-grandfather was a tailor before him. Then on my mother’s side, her father spent most of his career working as a food scientist at Sainsbury’s. When Retail Management Consultants was founded by my parents in 1987, I was evicted from my bedroom to make way for our first office – my selfless dedication to the retail sector started there and then. Although I didn’t set out to go into the world of retail – and I actually really enjoyed my time at the Scottish Executive – perhaps it was inevitable that I’d gravitate in this direction sooner or later.
SEUNG JUN OH: You were involved in many projects across the world, what are the key differences that you have noticed between shopping centres in different regions?
JOSEPH: I love seeing people react to new shopping malls in emerging and frontier markets. Marvelling at the open spaces; the air conditioning; the foreign brands; fast food! Giggling as granny steps on an escalator for the first time. It’s important to be reminded what a truly incredible environment shopping centres are – and what they can mean to people. We’re a tough crowd, us Brits, and hard to please. But our shopping centres are still at their best when they appeal to our sense of astonishment.
SEUNG JUN OH:You have provided consultancy services to many different retailers. In the context of franchising, what are the key factors that individual retailers find the most difficult when moving out to a new country?
JOSEPH: Humility – being realistic about the prospects for your brand in a new market. Empathy – appreciating the commercial challenges your partner may face. Flexibility – Plan A is usually just the beginning.
SEUNG JUN OH: With the popularity of e-commerce rising, what do you think are the steps shopping centres should consider in order to meet the new demands/standards of the shoppers?
JOSEPH: I don’t’ have the answer. Online shoppers simply don’t place demands on shopping centres. In fact, much of the appeal of online shopping is that you don’t have to go to a shopping centre. The larger malls will continue to be popular but I’m unsure what options smaller shopping centres have. Some may innovate and adapt to become highly-specialised local amenities – but remember, people said this about town centres years ago and it never really happened. Others will muddle through as they are. Many will close. I’d be very concerned if I was a landlord or an investor.
SEUNG JUN OH: When it comes to consumer shopping dynamics, how do you think they have changed over the years?
JOSEPH: Customers haven’t really changed at all. They want good service, good products, conveniently and at a reasonable price. Technology will continue to drive innovation in the means by which retailers can deliver what customers want, but what they want now is what they have always wanted.