Pacific Fair shopping centre, managed by AMP Capital.

Pacific Fair shopping centre.

Food services and experiential retail are the keys to creating successful shopping centres, according to AMP Capital managing director Mark Kirkland.

Speaking to RetailBiz, Kirkland said research by AMP Capital found 82 per cent of shoppers would spend as much or more on food experiences that provided opportunities to relax, and over 50 per cent of shoppers aged between 18 and 29 wanted to see things like rooftop bars included in their local centres.

“Over the past decade, we have seen a growing trend both locally and globally of shopping centres becoming as much a place for social gatherings as they are places of commerce,” he said.

“Through our research, we have seen that the desire for human connection continues to be a driver for visitation, which is why food offerings and services are a key focus for AMP Capital.”

Brickworks Centre in Queensland, owned by AMP Capital.

Brickworks Centre.

Kirkland said AMP is investing significantly in food, services and experiential retail as it believes these will play a larger role in the evolution of retail. So far this investment has included acquiring two Queensland centres with strong food retailing offerings, Brickworks Centre in Southport and Gasworks Plaza in Brisbane.

Local approach

AMP’s strategy when developing experiences within its centres is to create places that are relevant to the local communities they serve, now and for generations to come, Kirkland said.

By looking at customer insights and spending, AMP can predict trends, understand shoppers’ wants and needs, and decide how best to bring these to life.

“This is why we continue to invest heavily in our research and insights-led approach to ensure we get this right. We have implemented place strategies across our portfolio, which allow us to localise our centres to resonate more with the local communities in which they serve.”

Kirkland pointed to Malvern Central in Melbourne as an example of this. The shopping centre is home to the first David Jones Food concept store, which offers premium meat and poultry, fresh produce, salads, takeaway meals, pantry staples, confectionery and wine.

AMP and David Jones chose Malvern as the first location because of shopper demand for more high-quality food offers.

“In response to this, we launched the first David Jones Food Hall concept in the state, offering premium best-in-class products in a variety of food categories. This launch, along with that of Peter Bouchier, Roll’d and Naked Foods, make Malvern Central a premium food retail destination we feel will be extremely successful.”

David Jones Food concept store in Malvern Central, managed by AMP Capital.

David Jones Food, Malvern Central.

Food and experiences the future

While online retail remains a growing threat to bricks-and-mortar stores, Kirkland said providing shoppers with places to relax, socialise and dine will continue to attract visitors to physical centres.

He said food spend has strongly outperformed non-food/discretionary spend across the country over the last few years, and expects this to continue in the short to medium term.

As centres continue to shift from transactional environments to experience centres, Kirkland said AMP Capital will actively respond to changes in the market in order to ensure its portfolio of centres remains relevant.

“Our research suggests that the desire to connect socially will continue to drive consumers into shopping centres. Therefore, I believe we will continue to see food services and experiential retail playing larger role in the evolution of retail going forward.”


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