Tag Archives: Morrisons

What makes MIPIM unique?

It’s hard to believe that another year has passed by since I was last in Cannes for MIPIM; The international property conference. It’s a big event attracting around 25,000 delegates from around the world. The theme of course is Property Development and people from every area of the sector come along to network and seek deals and opportunities. High profile attendees this year include; Boris Johnson, The Candy brothers and ex-Manchester United player Gary Neville, who will be talking about his development company.

mipim25Two very common questions I often get asked…

What is so special about MIPIM?
Why go to Cannes to meet people from the UK?

If you’ve not been, it’s perhaps easy to imagine that this is a jolly. It’s certainly set in a stunning location where the sun is shining and there is a lot of money floating around; expensive hotels and restaurants, big boats and fast cars. But, being here in my third year now, I can tell you that it’s hard work. People are here for a good reason; to do business. I have over 30 appointments in my diary over the next 3 days. I will be up and out by around 7am and back again after midnight. It’s a marathon. My intention is simple; to return with as many contacts and leads as possible.

The entire MIPIM event is unique. The environment sets the scene for a very different mindset. People, generally representing the top of their respective organisations, are away from their day-to-day working routines. There are no boardroom formalities and people aren’t thinking about a hundred other things. Generally people are here to focus on the job in hand. Therefore you can connect with people so much more easily – and they are much more receptive to talking. This is what makes MIPIM special.

I’m representing my new company WCEC this year, in only my second week with the company! We have some great experience and current projects to talk about this week. Our company has been built up through our long standing partnerships with Morrisons and Asda. This has enabled us to build a strong port-folio of town centre regeneration, supermarkets, convenience stores, mixed-use regeneration and also logistics/ industrial, to name just a few. Beyond that our recent work has included hotels, leisure and residential.

Residential has been a big growth area for the business in recent years. Our teams are currently working on a number of high-profile urban developments in London and the South East. Our signature project at present is Royal Wharf in the Docklands, the first phase of which is worth £250m. We have also built up a team delivering Permitted Development projects for Office to Residential conversions.

Delivering all of the above, is a focused and diverse team of around 120 staff offering a broad range of group services. A key one at present being BIM (Building Information Modelling). We have been actively involved in BIM for around 8 years now – there’s probably not that many architects who can say that! Until last week my knowledge of BIM was pretty limited. It strikes me that there is a lot of ‘talk’ about BIM, but a lot of people probably don’t understand it and are certainly not well placed to effectively deliver it. I am in no doubt; BIM is the future to delivering buildings and running them for their lifetime. WCEC are delivering projects for all our clients in BIM, using Revit and a number of other programmes. We believe we have developed a real expertise in BIM, so we have a separate consultancy which provides services to the wider construction sector. This is in big demand at present.

Whilst I’m over here, in between my meetings, I’ll be seeking an overview of the property markets. What’s the forecast? Is London really over heating? Are the regions coming back? I’ll be spending time at the London, Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield and Leeds stands. I’ll also be seeing my good friends and acquaintances at “Team Talented Nottingham” to learn more about Nottingham and the East Midlands plans. You can see the brand new Invest in Nottingham website here. They also have a MIPIM specific website here.

Royal WharfI’ll be blogging a bit more through the week, as and when I get a few moments…?


Supermarket Success

Many people are quick to be critical of Supermarkets based on the negative impact they have had on Great Britain’s High Streets. The way we purchase our groceries has changed substantially in the last couple of decades. In fact a massive 90% of our UK grocery shopping is done in our Supermarkets. 3% of these sales are now on-line for local delivery; this is a rapidly growing trend. So whilst people are critical of these companies, they continue to shop with them. The likes of Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons have become hugely successful companies, but how do they do it?

Gregg-Wallace_1851584bI watched Autumns Supermarket Secrets with Masterchef presenter Greg Wallace last week. This was the second part in a series which gives an insight to the operations of these huge companies. I was intrigued to understand a bit more about how companies like Tesco operate. Tesco is the largest retailer in the UK and second in the world. Wal-Mart is the largest globally; they own Asda who are the 3rd largest in the UK. These are big business’ with ever increasing turnover and profits.

In the programme they looked at the design/ layout of supermarkets and also customer spending trends. Some interesting facts are;

1. The Fruit and Vegetable aisles are always at the front of the store as its a soft way to encourage the customer into the “retail experience”. The items are generally loose and full of different colours. The aisles are really wide because people are in a transition into the store, therefore they are most likely to leave their trolley as they wander around.

2. We love ‘British’ produce. The challenge is how can the supermarkets put fresh British produce on the shelves all year-round? Working with their suppliers they have developed lots of ways of both growing and storing fruit and veg to keep it going longer.

3. The central spine aisle is the prime retail zone where the highest footfall and sales are generated. Therefore the ends of the shopfittings (called gondolas) have all the promotions and multi-purchase deals.

4. The freezer aisles are the least attractive/ engaging area of the store. Because its cold and you have to open doors or lean over into freezers. Therefore people spend the least time there. That’s why they are at the end of the store.

5. It’s logical to consider that it might be best to arrange the store according to how you fill your trolley (i.e. large/ solid/ boxed items first with softer/ loose/ compressible items last). However if they did this, people wouldn’t spend as much!

6. Every thought to yourself; this supermarket ‘own brand’ product probably comes out of the same factory as a similar independent ‘premium brand’ product? Well they actually do often come from the same factory. However, the content of those products is changed to suit the price point. Therefore its not just the packaging that differs.

6. It would seem that the UK have become obsessed with ‘ready meals’! We consume 1 in 3 ready meals across the whole of Europe. Convenience is no doubt a major driver in our spending trends as people lead increasingly busy lifestyles.

Whilst on holiday in a fairly remote part of Yorkshire last week, we saw numerous Tesco vans navigating the tight lanes. The emergence of home delivery must be a real game changer for rural locations. Likewise the supermarkets are driving their operational development to facilitate home delivery. In addition to the conventional ‘home delivery’ from your nearest store, a number of supermarkets have now got online warehouse facilities to pack the boxes which arrive at our front doors. These are just like a supermarket, but without all the customer promotional signs etc! The boxes travel around the store aisles on a conveyor belt and stop at predetermined locations to be filled. Staff at each ‘station’ scan a bar-code to see what needs to go in the box. The shelves are arranged in priority of frequency of items purchased, so the regular items are right in front of the operator whilst the more infrequently purchased items are down the aisle. Clever stuff!

dotcomcentreSo what can we take from all this? Well these companies have a very clear strategic focus on all aspects of their activity. Their objective is clearly to sell more and generate increased profits. They do this by analysing in detail what their customers want and how they buy it. Then they also push the boundaries in terms of maximizing their efficiency in how they get the products to the customer.

A simple reminder/ lesson for us all;

1. Properly understand and deliver your customer needs/ aspirations.
2. Know which products are in demand (and as importantly which aren’t!)
3. Maximise your profile/ offer through appropriate marketing.
4. Make sure that whatever you provide is efficient and effective from an operational perspective.

Strategic thinking. Every little helps…