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Expert opinions, profiles, market trends, debate and the latest news in an ever-changing sector

Group Wednesday 21st September 2016

What happened next

The EU Referendum vote has meant that it’s been a turbulent three months for the property market. We checked in with three leading property marketing and communications professionals to tell us what’s been keeping them busy in a changed landscape.

 Lucy Grimble - Head of Communications and Investor Relations, U+I

Whilst uncertainty prevails and early signs from the property industry are mixed, our business remains well positioned. People still need places to live, work and play, and for the year ahead our emphasis is unchanged – to bring forward some of the most exciting
regeneration projects in London, Manchester and Dublin.

From a property comms perspective, it feels as though time horizons have shifted slightly. Shorter-term time frames are less
certain but confidence in the medium-to long-term perspective seems pretty steadfast. Without the benefit of a crystal ball, as communications professionals, our focus has to be to get the balance right between anticipation of and reaction to any curveballs that the post-Brexit landscape might throw our way.

For U+I, taking the long view is fundamental to our approach and specialism in delivering large-scale, community-focused regeneration projects, which often entail complexities other developers might shy away from. We work closely with public sector partners to create long-lasting social and economic change for the communities in which we build, delivering mixed-use, community-led developments that address housing, employment and socioeconomic needs. Those needs certainly won’t disappear or dissipate anytime soon, and we strive to be a part of the solution for the places in which we work.

In the near-term, we will be starting our community engagement activities for 8 Albert Embankment. In partnership with the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA), we will deliver a radical, new, mixed-use regeneration scheme for the historic home of the London Fire Brigade. We are also due to begin our community engagement activities for Cockpit Yard – a public-private partnership with Camden Council – as we develop plans for a new mixed-use destination for Holborn.

 

Isabel Gutierrez - Retail Marketing Project Manager, Argent

My job is to manage the strategy and delivery of retail marketing for King’s Cross, supporting the work of my in-house leasing team and our retained agents. The main focus this year is around Coal Drops Yard, the shopping heart of the development and an exciting new part of the neighbourhood.

Coal Drops Yard, designed by Thomas Heatherwick, will open to the public in 2018. It will have up to 60 shops – a mix of much-loved brands and new entrants to the UK, with a focus on fashion – in a really special historic environment, unlike anything
else that London has to offer.

We launched Coal Drops Yard a month ago, and it is already attracting major interest from both UK and overseas brands. After a short period of cautiousness from the market while it digested the Referendum result, we went on to have a busy summer!

The leasing strategy revolves around highly-targeted approaches to specific retailers that we feel can contribute to the vision that we have for Coal Drops Yard, combined with responding to inquiries from brands of the right profile. Marketing supports this
through the production of several key pieces of collateral tailored in look, feel and tone of voice to the retailers being targeted; we have a weather eye on the wider trends affecting how, when and why people shop, and have commissioned research to give us deeper insight into who our consumers will be.

 

Sally Saadeh - Director, Marketing and Communications, Oxford Properties Group

It is fair to say that the result of the EU referendum vote and Britain deciding to exit came as a bit of a shock. We had a scenario planned for both outcomes, but in reality – and like most in our industry – we didn’t actually think it would be a ‘leave’ vote that
prevailed. Like everything that life throws at you, the best course of action is to take a deep breath, assess the situation, make a decision and move forward; maybe a little slower than before and with a little more caution; but forward nonetheless.

Before the vote, there were already signs of slowing down in the London commercial real estate market and that has continued since, albeit the summer is normally quieter from a transactional perspective. However, our portfolio includes lots of assets we actively manage and, in marketing and communications terms, I wish I could say it had been a quiet summer but it has been flat-out preparing for September and the rest of this year. In that respect, it has been business as usual. We continue to execute our strategy and deliver on our plans. One of our developments is due for completion next year and, with just over 20% still to lease, we are undertaking activities including events and collateral to secure an occupier for the remaining space. For
one of our luxury retail assets, we have to get on with planning our Christmas activities including tree lighting, and advertising campaigns.

We are owned by a Canadian pension fund which makes us a patient and long-term investor. We can make the most of opportunities that arise and our teams are busy assessing all prospects. From a marketing and communications perspective, these are exciting times and I believe excelling at what we do will mean we are in a prime position to maximise on whatever lies ahead.