Strategy

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Monday 22 April 2024

Our long-term strategy, which is articulated around our investment, financial and operational strategies, aims at building a sustainable and resilient business for all our stakeholders. The three drivers for accelerated change are ESG, digitalisation and communities.

Vision

Shopping centres are constantly evolving but remain essential for their retailers’ brand building while delivering frictionless and omnichannel experiences for their local communities in a safe and inspiring meeting place, providing a wide range of retail products, services and leisure.

Mission

To create, own and actively manage enjoyable spaces which serve as a focal point for their communities. To protect and enhance long-term stakeholders’ value through professional management, engagement, training, digitalisation and shared experiences provided responsibly within an increasingly sustainable framework.

The text in this section is an extract of the full strategy published in our latest annual report.

Investment strategy

Financial strategy

Operational strategy

Drivers for change

Investment strategy

Eurocommercial has more than 30 years’ experience in investing and managing shopping centres in Europe with a portfolio of almost €3.8 billion comprising 24 prime assets in Italy, France, Sweden and Belgium.

A shopping centre specialist

Eurocommercial employs a rigorous, research-led approach to its acquisitions which are focused on easily accessible, well-located retail properties that dominate their catchment areas. Our economic and research teams conduct detailed catchment studies concentrating on their current and prospective demographic and economic profiles. At the same time, care is taken to analyse and assess the current and future provision of retail space and competition in the catchment to ensure that the retail density is appropriate.

A diversified shopping centre portfolio

Our existing property portfolio of 24 shopping centres reflects our approach to investment diversification. Our five “flagship” assets representing around 45% of the portfolio by value are located in three of our four countries:

  • Woluwe Shopping, Brussels
  • Passage du Havre, Paris
  • Carosello, Milan
  • Fiordaliso, Milan
  • I Gigli, Florence

These five “flagships” are all well-known both nationally and internationally and are very well established regional shopping centres in their city catchments. They are also important destinations for an expanding international tenant base (e.g. Primark, Inditex, H&M, Apple, Nike) as well as the most important national brands (e.g. Fnac, OVS, Inno).

The remainder of the portfolio (approximately 55%) are predominantly suburban hypermarket anchored shopping centres with more than 60% of their floor space devoted to everyday and essential retail providing consistent and regular footfall during the whole week. These centres are mainly located in important provincial cities in their countries and are characterised by their dense primary catchments and strategic road locations providing easy access, free parking and integrated public transport.

Selective growth and asset rotation

Further growth and diversification of the property portfolio could be achieved for example through joint ventures with financial partners, which could be envisaged for specific assets. Extensions of shopping centres have to provide a minimum return reflecting the risks and strategic value of the projects.


Financial strategy

Our tailor made, asset backed financing structure has enabled us to remain largely unaffected by the volatility of the credit markets, helping us to keep a healthy balance sheet. We aim at maintaining this rigorous financial discipline and approach to each investment decision accordingly.

Overall, we aim to maintain a loan to value ratio of around 40%.

Eurocommercial is financed exclusively through mortgage loans. This financing structure provides the right flexibility to raise finance secured against individual or groups of assets.

We have strong and long-standing lending relationships with a group of over 15 Belgian, Dutch, French, German, Italian and Swedish specialist real estate financing banks, ensuring diversity of access to finance between lenders and across different geographies, which support the financial robustness of the Company.

The Company aims at maintaining its rigorous financial discipline and introduced in 2021 a new dividend policy whereby a target of 75% of distributable profits has been set. The dividend policy also provides for an interim dividend payable in January and a final dividend payable in July, requiring cash flow discipline to be able to offer shareholders a stable income stream every six months.

Green Finance Framework

Eurocommercial has published a Green Finance Framework to support Eurocommercial’s strategy and the transition to a low carbon economy. The Green Finance Framework has been reviewed by ISS Corporate Solutions to assess the alignment of the project categories financed with the sustainability key objectives of Eurocommercial and the clarity of the description provided of those objectives and of the rationale for issuing Green Finance Instruments. (For more information about Green Finance Framework, please consult our page in the link here: Green Finance Framework)

Operational strategy

Leasing excellence

The quality of our portfolio continues to produce outstanding operating metrics measured in terms of rental growth, retail sales, occupancy, OCR levels, footfall, positive lease spreads on renewals and relettings and rent collection.

  • Leasing excellence is not just about letting vacant space but involves a detailed evaluation of what future tenancy mix is required to make the shopping centre even more relevant for its communities.
  • Our leasing teams are therefore in constant dialogue with the most important international, national and local retail and non-retail (i.e. health care, fitness and other services) groups, monitoring emerging trends and innovations in the retail and non-retail world and often assisting and providing advice to new market entrants.
  • Getting the right tenant mix remains pivotal to the performance and success of each shopping centre, and careful analysis of monthly sales and footfall data prepared by our rent collection teams provides information on which the teams are able to judge when and how to adjust tenant mix.

Portfolio management

  • Our asset management teams work to ensure that our centres remain fresh, modern and relevant through regular refurbishments, extensions and active tenant rotation designed to increase footfall thereby strengthening the shopping centre's market position while upgrading the retail offer, services and experience for its customers.
  • Experienced project and technical teams enable us to initiate, analyse and manage these projects in-house. They also ensure high standards of maintenance, curation and presentation, and support the preparation of sustainable capital expenditure plans and the identification of ESG improvement targets.
  • Key information comes from our research and marketing teams who measure and analyse customer and tenant experience from regular surveys and data management.
  • Our centre management teams use this data and their local expertise as a reliable tool to constantly improve the shopping centres in terms of their outlook, environment, services, marketing and tenant mix.
  • Our treasury and finance teams provide efficient management of the cash flow and financial needs of the properties, while our accounting teams are providers of timely and ad hoc information to improve returns and the supervision of the financial management of the service charges.



Drivers for change

Eurocommercial has identified three drivers for accelerated change: ESG, digitalisation and communities.

ESG

Eurocommercial believes that building a sustainable and resilient business is the foundation for long-term success.

Our ESG approach is articulated around three strategic pillars: Be green, Be engaged, Be responsible.

Be green
Being green is the basis of our operations as we work to synchronise the mindset of all stakeholders in our communities, providing us with the opportunity to make changes to significantly reduce both our imprint and operational costs as we focus on the transition to a low carbon economy.

Eurocommercial aims to improve the environmental quality of its shopping centres by implementing standards and technologies to increase energy and water efficiency and waste recycling.

We focus on gathering robust baseline energy data, ensuring we are compliant with regulations concerning building environmental management, while we aim to further reduce the service charge costs for our tenants through energy-efficient measures.

Through our green lease documentation, we exchange ESG ambitions and responsibilities with our tenants. Our Supplier Code of Conduct ensures procurement quality, innovation and creativity, prioritising the use of construction materials that are locally sourced, recycled and have a low environmental impact.

Eurocommercial’s approach to managing climate risks, opportunities and activities is organised through the ESG committee.

Be engaged
At Eurocommercial, we design shopping centres as social spaces not merely retail destinations, providing a cornerstone for their local communities. Our centres serve the everyday shopping, leisure and services needs of our customers and those of their local communities, providing them with a safe, service-oriented and enjoyable experience.

Our shopping centres are an integral part of, and have a positive impact on their communities bringing enhanced social and environmental values, be that through the promotion of local employment, procurement, the improvement of local transport infrastructure, education, the introduction of new services, or the provision of green spaces and amenities.

Be responsible

Our aim is to be an attractive and responsible employer while creating an enjoyable workplace where our employees can thrive and develop professionally by providing them with a broad corporate and property experience and education, supported by carefully targeted training programmes.
A successful strategy recognised by many external awards: EPRA Gold Award for sustainability reporting for the tenth consecutive year; Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) 4 Star Rating, with a “A” disclosure score
A transparent and modern governance: The ESG Committee is responsible for the Company’s ESG strategy and includes all members of the Board of Management and the Group Director Legal. The ESG Workgroup is responsible for implementing the ESG strategy and directing initiatives in the local countries and sharing information and best practices.

Digitalisation

With most of our tenants operating omnichannel, we work with our retailers to customise their stores and our centres to improve the overall integrated physical and digital experience for customers. As retailers rationalise their online administration, logistics and returns, efficient use of the store has become an integral part of the process.

We are improving data sharing for our retailers to improve catchment penetration and conversion rates, while further developing our CRM programme to strengthen the relationship and loyalty of our existing customer base.

At shopping centre level, we also launched ECP Connect, a tenant app to improve communication between the centre managers, the local staff and tenants.

Communities

With the changing customer journey, our communities are also changing in terms of their composition, geography, values, interests and lifestyle choices. As we focus on our relationship with our communities, we respond to their needs, providing them with the best possible level of relevant retail, services, amenities and experiences. By creating community spaces (online and offline) we can provide opportunities for different groups with common interests to meet, socialise, share and discuss their experiences around the shopping centre brands.

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