Revo Floor
Image by Foundation Recruitment

Themes from REVO

Chloé Vaughan and Jessica Middleton-Pugh

Putting the ‘re’ in Revo…

Reconfiguring, reassessing, reimagining, repurposing. These were just some of the most oft-heard ‘re’ words in discussions across the stands, with ‘regearing’ also coming into play quite a lot. This reflected a market faced with an admitted over-supply of retail space, and a conundrum of what to do with it. Lots of debate over what these creative solutions might look like featured on panels and the conference floor, although as one agent warned, some areas are at risk of “throwing good money after bad”, as they turn to hopes of converting retail to residential uses, in reality a difficult sell without high rental or sale values to underpin the business case.

Revo Savills


B-warned…

Meanwhile, as the potential B-day looms ever closer, an important ‘de’ is coming into play, derisking. This contributed to what felt like a more subdued floor at Revo than in previous years. Announcements of occupier relocations or centre expansions were non-existent, reflecting a market afraid to do anything which might involve risk. All decisions are delayed until the outcome of 31 October, and until then, hands will continue to hover over the ‘go’ button on what few decisions occupiers and developers are willing to make in a sector wracked by uncertainty.


Fight for funds…

The Government has finally puts its hand in its pocket to back retail regeneration, as local authorities across the country compete for a roster of funds; the £1bn Future High Streets Fund, £95m Historic High Street Fund, the £3.6bn Towns Fund. Some attractive figures there, but like Brexit, the promise of future funding has created a feeling of lag in the sector, as every local authority leader or development director points to some ongoing bid, some next phase of consultation, some impending judgment, which could yield big bucks for their area but means work “can’t quite begin just yet”. Let’s hope all the form-filling and bidding pays off.


Tech takeaways…

Technology underpins the changes the retail sector has undergone in the past decade, and it seems set to shape its future, sp what at Revo was the hot tech? If you can drive, then you’re in luck as there was a plethora of car park-related technology on the exhibition floor. This included smart car parking spaces, EV spaces, space monitoring, and security. Other tech focused on data monitoring and aggregation, popular with retailers seeking insight into consumer behaviour. Companies included Over C which monitors task completion in buildings, and Hoxton Analytics, which uses low pointing cameras to monitor footfall rather than faces, and digs more specifically into demographic details.

Group Nexus Smart Car Parking

One of the several car parking technology products on offer at Revo, Group Nexus had a specific focus on the integration of electric vehicles into car parks and how to make sure the infrastructure, like charging points, was properly used


Ethics…

However, with data collection and monitoring comes a range of other problems. One of the reasons people are worried about the widespread implementation of tech is the invasion of privacy and lack of security, hidden beneath the label of artificial intelligence data gathering. According to Jackie Mulligan, chief executive of ShopAppy, speaking on a panel on ‘what can technology do for you?’, while technology can provide some insight, it won’t replace human experiences “and doesn’t provide serendipity. Technology can’t predict human’s unpredictable nature, and it will never replace genuine human discovery or opportunity.” Still set to be a game-changer, but handle with care.

Revo What Can Technology Do For You

From left: Susan Freeman, partner at Mishcon de Reya; Jackie Mulligan, founder at ShopAppy; Linda Chandler, director at Hyperlocal Cities; Herculano Rodrigues, associate director, Javelin Group; and Sam Jackman, chief development officer at Shared Access


Identi-towns…

A theme brought up in most panels and conversations was how high streets across the country have become “clone towns”, perhaps something which should have struck developers and councils a little sooner since consumers have been saying it for years. However. This realisation has influenced a focus on driving more flexibility, to provide shorter leases and support more independent businesses to suit the demographic of each local area. Lots of talk on “realising a place’s unique selling point” and focusing developments on that, with or without traditional anchor tenants, was the general consensus on the best way forward.

Revo Landsec

Developer and investor Landsec sums up the focus on revamping the high street and encourages businesses and developers to “think differently”

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