The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) explored the very best of retail at its reimagined European Conference & Exhibition, which took place on 10th – 11th April at the Fairmont Rey Juan Carlos I Hotel in Barcelona. For the first time, an innovative exhibition floor had been added to the traditional conference format, allowing the latest and greatest retail concepts to be showcased to the just over 800 delegates attending from over 39 countries.
The two-day event was headlined ‘Space, Place and the Future of Retail’, a theme that explored the various disruptive forces reshaping and evolving the retail industry. The busy conference programme welcomed world-class keynote speakers including, amongst many others, Christophe Cuvillier, Group CEO of Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, speaking about why the challenges facing physical retail are opportunities rather than threats, Jonas Kjellberg, Serial Entrepreneur and founding partner of Skype, talking about the kind of innovative thinking that is needed for success, and David Delgado, NASA’s Visual Strategist, exploring the importance of imagination, wonder and the desire to explore. Other notable topics included ‘Armageddon or Renaissance?’, which explored a retail industry in transformation, ‘Show me the Money! – Where Is It and How to Attract It?’, which heard online retailers discuss what they are looking for in the physical world and ‘What’s in Store? – Unique Insights into Rapidly Changing Retail Strategies’, which explored the much in-vogue ‘phygital’ strategies. In total, the conference consisted of 17 key sessions and an equal amount of smaller break-out sessions, designed to allow for interaction and specialisation, in one of three categories: workshops, ‘Small talks’ and especially-themed outlet sessions.
The buzzing showcase area hosted major European developers and retail property owners including ECE, Ingka Centres, Multi, SES Spar and Sonae Sierra, displaying their most innovative projects. The floor also featured an exhibit, courtesy of Bompas & Parr and Gensler, called ‘The Purpose of Place’. Adding an experiential element to the exhibition floor, visitors were encouraged to walk through five interactive booths, each dedicated to one of the five senses – showcasing how great places can evoke powerful sensory responses.
Bill Kistler, EMEA Managing Director and Executive Vice President of ICSC, commented: “We made the decision to take our proven European Conference concept and integrate it with an innovative exhibition floor, adding a new, dynamic dimension to the experience – and are proud to say that it truly made the event better than ever before. It was great to see delegates interacting in whole new ways, boosting networking opportunities and knowledge-sharing. Once again, we have proven that coming to Barcelona is an indispensable opportunity for retail real estate proffesionals to come together in an increasingly digital world.”
Another highlight of the event was the celebration of Europe’s most outstanding new, refurbished and established retail places through the announcement of the 2019 ICSC European Shopping Centre Awards, which took place on the first day of the event. The winners included CascaiShopping in Cascais, Portugal (Refurbishments and/or Expansions, Small/Medium), Iso Omena in Espoo, Finland (Refurbishments and/or Expansions, Extra Large), Muse in Metz, France (New Developments, Small/Medium) and Adigeo in Verona, Italy (New Developments, Large).
The ICSC European Conference & Exhibition will return to Barcelona on the 1st – 2nd April 2020.