Retail Real Estate Experts talk about their life and career on Bayfield Training Blog.

Natalie Bayfield

Chairwoman, Bayfield Training



SANDRA: What has prompted you to create a Shopping Centre Investment course?

NATALIE: We initially called it Shopping Centre Economics and Appraisals and reverted to the snappier Shopping Centre Investment or SCI course. I felt there was a gap in the market for a retail property course that was truly Investment focused. Most retail property asset and forecasting models are derived from original work on offices as a proxy for the commercial real estate market. I wanted to put retail at the centre of the analysis and give the complexity of this interesting asset the individual attention that it deserved.

SANDRA: What was the most exciting thing about developing the course?

NATALIE: Speaking to the shopping centre managers, owners, retailers and customers. Almost everyone loves shopping and everyone has a view. The really exciting aspect for us as educationalists was being able to tie these views together across the retail business. We have created useable metrics that help each stakeholder get an idea of each other’s performance goals and consequently giving everyone a 360-degree view of the business. Every metric is ultimately linked to the bottom line.

“I felt there was a gap in the market for a retail property course that was truly Investment focused.”


SANDRA: Who would you recommend the course to?

NATALIE: This course was initially designed for the private equity house who is diversifying into retail property and/or shopping centres and needed a quick and intensive ‘shot in the arm’ so to speak on everything they needed to know about the asset. Actually Real Estate Investment is our home territory and all our courses start and end with two questions: 1. how do I make money out of the asset? and 2. is it sustainable? So whether we are talking about management, leasing, product mix, design or technology we are always asking “yes, but what does the bottom line look like.” This means the shopping centre investment course is actually useful for anyone at all responsible for making the centre successful.

SANDRA: What are the topics previous delegates have found most useful?

NATALIE: Delegates always mention the financial modelling, which of course Bayfield is well known for having. They also really enjoy the shopping centre leasing game at the end of the course which ties all of the information over the previous couple of days. At this point they are able to discuss KPIs in the context of their own, fictional, centre. We bring in experts on the final day as part of the panel to discuss the design and leasing strategy of the teams, and as facilitators we are always surprised with something that the delegates come up with or create.

SANDRA: Bayfield Training is expanding to Continental Europe and Africa, what is the most exciting recent or upcoming course?

NATALIE: All the cities we have worked in are exciting in their own way. Warsaw for example has a sophisticated real estate investment market and a strong existing consumer market. London is similar but has already been through a few cycles. Nairobi like all the African cities we have visited are particularly exciting in that there is a sense of the frontier about them. Retail assets are being built not just to meet existing demand but growing future demand as well.

SANDRA: You also teach at University of Cambridge, develop new courses, and write articles for well-known industry magazines. How do you find the time for all of this?

NATALIE: The key is enjoying what you do and surrounding yourself with a great team. It is fantastic to have the opportunity to work with so many people who are as passionate as I am about the impact that the urban environment has on our lives, in both profit and pleasure. The Shopping Centre Investment course in particular has put us in touch with so many people who are visibly fascinated and intrigued by retail that, as an activity, helps define identity and provides a place to meet other people and be seen. I have to say next to the Real Estate Analyst, the Shopping Centre Investment course is the one I’m proudest of to date and its creation has truly been a team effort.