HIGH FIVE–Interview: Shaping the European Retail Landscape

Portrait picture of interview partner Joanna Fisher and High Five-Logo

One topic, one industry leader, five questions and answers – That’s HIGH FIVE! In our latest edition with Joanna Fisher, who represents the European Council of Shopping Places and runs ECE’s shopping centers business. The framework for retail and real estate is changing constantly and many inputs come from the European level. Discover with us, how ECSP will shape the European retail landscape together with the industry players and how she feels about the future-proof assets.

Dr. Angelus Bernreuther, Head of Investor Relations, Kaufland International conducted the interview with Joanna Fisher. Thank you very much!

The ECSP is a relatively new organization for retail real estate at the European level. Could you briefly explain the background, aims and how you work together with the national retail councils?

Joanna Fisher: So far, the shopping center industry has not been sufficiently represented at the European level. However, many decisions and regulations are made in Brussels that strongly affect our industry. Our goal at ECSP is therefore to represent the industry effectively and with one voice at the European level. To this end, we have set ourselves three key topics on the agenda: monitoring, valuation and co-design of relevant legislative processes at European level, networking within the type of industry with national associations and with politicians, and events for the exchange of information.


Many decisions in the legislative framework come more and more from the European Union. How do you see your role here?

Joanna Fisher: This is precisely why we want to focus much more on political work in Europe in the future, make the importance and concerns of our industry visible and include our perspective into legislative processes. Up to now, the specific requirements and special features of the shopping center industry have only been reflected very inaccurately in Brussels, and we want to change that.


The retail landscape is changing fast. How will ECSP be engaged in this process? Which current challenges and opportunities do you see in Europe?

Joanna Fisher: We work with the EU Council, the European Commission and the European Parliament since all three are involved in the legislative process and are therefore relevant to our work. We all know that the challenges within the transformation of the type of industry are large and diverse. At the European level, a very important aspect is the EU climate policy requirements for the real estate industry, which also significantly affect the shopping center sector. Thus, at the political level, we are campaigning for feasible and suitable framework conditions for our industry to achieve these goals, which take their specific conditions into account in the best possible way.


It’s all about cooperation. How will ECSP encourage the main stakeholders in the business to exchange, learn and work together to shape the future retail landscape?

Joanna Fisher: For some time now, the players within our industry have begun to network much more closely and to bundle and jointly pursue their interests in order to tackle the issues and challenges for the business sector together and with a strong voice. I think this is an important and impressive sign, especially in view of the experiences of recent years. We want to further strengthen this common understanding to achieve our goals at European level for the benefit of our industry.                       


Many retail assets have to adapt and look after a new future-proof tenant mix. Which formats will be the future footfall anchors for retail assets?

Joanna Fisher: That depends very much on the specific asset and its location. There is no general recipe, and each asset has to be considered individually and developed further to emphasize its strengths. Large international brands will certainly become even more important as magnets in the future, especially for destination centers, and they are currently expanding strongly in some cases. In the case of neighborhood centers, it is more important to continue to strengthen the local supply function to keep it relevant. A third aspect is the further development and enhancement of the tenant mix to include supplementary offers and additional uses, from entertainment and gastronomy to specific non-retail offers such as medical services, in order to make the assets fit for the future.

About the European Council of Shopping Places (ECSP):

The European Council of Shopping Places provides a European voice for an industry that designs, creates, funds, develops, builds and manages places anchored by retail across Europe. The members are a catalyst for sustainable urban regeneration and represent an important civic function in virtually every European community. 

About ECE Marketplaces:

ECE Marketplaces is a leading service provider in Europe for the management of shopping centers and offers comprehensive expertise and more than 55 years of experience in the professional operation and marketing of shopping centers as well as their continuous development into lively marketplaces and attractive urban districts. As part of the internationally active real estate and investment company ECE Group, ECE Marketplaces manages around 200 shopping centers with 20,000 shops on a total sales area of approx. 7 million m².